CULLEN COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Civil and Environmental Engineering Chairman Delivers Lecture at Technical University of Vienna

By: 

Audrey Grayson

Roberto Ballarini, Thomas and Laura Hsu Professor and Chairman of the department of civil and environmental engineering at the Cullen College, was invited to deliver a lecture at the Technical University of Vienna this month on strategies for cultivating a multidisciplinary environment in education and research.

Ballarini, who is well-known for bringing a cross-disciplinary flair to his academic and research pursuits, was invited to deliver the lecture as part of the Technical University of Vienna’s “Vision 2025 Forum,” which brings together experts from a variety of backgrounds to exchange ideas and reflect on ongoing questions in research, teaching and the social role of the university.

Although Ballarini’s primary background lies in the mechanics of materials and structures, his research has been published in a wide variety of top journals, covering topics including biophysics, aeronautics and microelectromechanical systems.

“Early on in my career I decided not to work on one specific topic,” Ballarini said. “Instead, I decided to adopt a multidisciplinary approach and to pursue interesting problems in many different fields.”

In his talk, Ballarini used an example from his experience as a researcher to segue into the importance of nurturing multidisciplinary interactions within the education and research environments. Specifically, Ballarini studied seashells’ resistance to catastrophic cracking and fracturing in order to apply these biological lessons to modern-day structures and infrastructures.

The talk concluded with some suggestions of mechanisms that can be created and sustained within an academic environment that will encourage, nurture and enable multidisciplinary pedagogy and research, Ballarini said.

For more information on the Technical University of Vienna’s Project Vision 2025+ Forum, please visit http://vision2025.tuwien.ac.at/home/EN/.

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