ICT Student Profile: Alexander Brand

Alexander Brand came to the College of Engineering at Illinois as an undergraduate student in 2006. He received his B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering in 2010 and 2012, respectively. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. under the guidance of Jeffery Roesler, professor of civil engineering, and expects to receive his doctoral degree in May 2015.

Brand’s research interests focus on the use of recycled materials for pavement applications, in general, and using fractionated reclaimed asphalt pavement (FRAP) as a partial coarse aggregate replacement, in particular. He is interested in investigating and improving the microstructural characteristics of bonding between a recycled aggregate and the cement matrix in concrete, with the ultimate objective of improving this bond.

Among his other research interests are advanced characterization techniques in civil engineering materials, concrete with high volumes of recycled materials, sustainable concrete pavements, and fracture and durability properties of concrete with recycled aggregates.

Brand has assisted with the following ICT research projects conducted on behalf of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, that primarily focus on the use of FRAP and other recycled materials in concrete:

His involvement in those projects as well as other research efforts has helped him learn that recycled materials can negatively impact some of the concrete properties by reducing strength or modulus but, says Brand, “if properly designed, the concrete can still perform suitably. For example, full-scale concrete slabs with recycled aggregates were found to perform similarly to typical concrete slabs with virgin materials because of the mix design and higher-quality aggregates.”

As a graduate student at ATREL, Brand appreciates the fact that he has access to exceptional testing equipment, the likes of which is available at few other universities. He also enjoys working alongside talented and helpful students and staff.

“With a very inquisitive and curious mind, his interest in construction materials, and a strong background in material characterization, both at the macro- and microstructural levels, Alex is going to make an outstanding civil engineering professor and researcher in the not-so-distant future,” says Roesler.

When he’s not studying, Brand likes to read science-related history, biographies, and fiction. His favorite outdoor activity is skiing, but he also enjoys biking, rollerblading, and tennis.