Before she moved to the United States from Nigeria for graduate school, civil engineering PhD student Urinrin Otite was fascinated by 3D-printing technology and, more specifically, its application in the field of construction.  

Now, she says, “I get to work firsthand with these sophisticated machines in ATLSS”—Lehigh’s Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Engineering Research Center—“and this is usually the highlight of my day.”

Otite, who is advised by Paolo Bocchini, a professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and the director of graduate programs in the CEE department, is part of a team that is combining 3D printing and a mathematical technique called topology optimization to “automatically design and manufacture reinforced concrete structural members to improve their structural performance.”

Using this mathematically informed, additive approach to manufacturing concrete slabs, columns, and other structural members to achieve stronger, yet lighter designs, she explains, will lower material costs while reducing the carbon footprint of a built structure. 

“I presently assist with the 3D printing of test members, and I am designing and testing 3D-printed concrete structural members to be displayed in a design exhibit in the coming months,” says Otite. “I am also investigating surface finishing products that can best protect our 3D-printed concrete structural members.”

Otite describes herself as someone who asks a lot of questions. Looking back on the first year of her PhD studies, she says, those queries to her professors and fellow graduate students have been met with support.  

“Here at Lehigh, I have always received the proper guidance and help to easily find my stance as an international student. I would say that prospective students should come to Lehigh with less concern about whether they would fit in but with an open and curious mindset, because the Lehigh graduate community is rich with diverse cultural and academic backgrounds that provide varying perspectives. To get the best of these perspectives, you must ask questions.”

Urinrin Otite

Urinrin Otite is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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