LTU names unique research center after Engineering Dean Nabil Grace

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University’s Center for Innovative Materials Research, pictured above, has a combination of specialized materials testing equipment that can provide full-scale environmental condition testing and evaluation not found anywhere else in the nation.

This unique center has been developed and overseen by Nabil Grace, dean of the LTU College of Engineering, who was instrumental in its construction and operation, and who has spent a lifetime researching advanced construction materials. It is only fitting then that the LTU Board of Trustees has voted to name the center after Grace.

The center will now be known as the Nabil Grace Center for Innovative Materials Research. The announcement came Monday, Aug. 9, at the conclusion of a test of advanced highway bridge materials attended by federal, state, and local transportation officials.

“The Center for Innovative Materials Research here at LTU is one of this nation’s, and the world’s, largest and most comprehensive infrastructure laboratories,” said Doug Ebert, chair of the LTU Board of Trustees. “The prolific research that Dr. Grace leads here is resulting in massive improvements in the durability, life, safety, and ultimately the cost of transportation-related infrastructure, particularly highway bridges. He’s received dozens of federal, state, and private research grants and contracts totaling nearly $28 million. And along the way, his work has attracted new industry and pathways to opportunity and success right here in Michigan. Just as important to the educational process at this University, the testing here has provided hundreds of Lawrence Tech students—from the bachelor’s to doctoral level—with hands-on, real-world experiences that prepare them for outstanding careers.”

Ebert continued: “We see this center as a fitting and permanent tribute to an inspired teacher, researcher, innovator, and technology leader.”


Grace did his undergraduate work at the University of Cairo in Egypt and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Windsor. He joined the Lawrence Tech faculty in 1988, and was chair of the Department of Civil Engineering before being named dean of the College of Engineering in 2012. He has received numerous industry awards and holds four United States patents. He is also the author or co-author of more than 150 research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Completed in 2008, LTU’s CIMR is a 7,200-square-foot research facility with a 30-foot clearance height. It has a 25-ton crane to accommodate testing of structural components up to 100 feet long under various types of loads up to one million pounds. It also features a large-scale fire chamber with dynamic and static loading capabilities that can test structural components in temperatures up to 2,400°F, conditions like those of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.

CIMR also houses an environmental chamber spacious enough for a large vehicle, which can simulate harsh weather conditions such as blowing, freezing rain, sub-zero temperatures of minus 80°F, or dry heat up to 180°F. Also in the CIMR: small environmental chambers that measure the performance of materials when subjected to pulling, twisting and repeated loads, and a chamber that can subject materials to a variety of forces at temperatures ranging from minus 80°F to 600°F.

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers nearly 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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