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Dr. Kinsey Skillen
Dr. Kinsey Skillen, who recently joined the department as an assistant professor, will focus on large-scale testing of structures and structural components in his research. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Kinsey Skillen, experienced in large-scale testing of structures and structural components, has joined the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University as an assistant professor.

He will be working in the department's structural engineering group, teaching the structural concrete design course this semester, and said his favorite part of teaching is the interaction with students both in the classroom in the laboratory.

"What is great about structures is that we are surrounded by them on a day-to-day basis and yet often take them for granted. Unlike other engineering disciplines, civil engineers rarely have the luxury of testing the final full-scale product. Sure, we can test parts and pieces, but we must get it right the first time,” he said.

With his background in large-scale testing of structures, he said he could not have selected a better fit than Texas A&M.

"In engineering, nothing is true until it has either been tested or experienced. Experience comes at a price, however, often learning from past mistakes. It is best we learn from those mistakes in the laboratory rather than in practice. In civil engineering, we deal with large-scale specimens, and it is often difficult to project results from the small scale to the large scale. This is what makes the large-scale structures lab at the CIR (Center for Infrastructure Renewal) such an invaluable resource to the department. The laboratory resources accompanied with the applied research funding opportunities by TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) give me the best opportunities to succeed as an assistant professor," he said. "I also can't speak highly enough to the level of camaraderie between the civil engineering faculty. Very proud to be a faculty member here at A&M," he said.

In preparing students to be a professional in the field, Skillen stresses the importance of engineering judgment.

"Nothing is exact in this business. Students should be conscious to the practicality and degree of certainty behind the calculations they make,” he said. "Engineers love to make exact analyses of approximate models, but is this better than an approximate analysis of the exact structure? I’m not convinced.”

Skillen's research focuses on large-scale testing of structures and structural components.

"In recent years, advances in material science have shown a need for testing high-performance materials for use in structural applications. I hope to be at the forefront of those efforts, which will result in stronger, tougher and more reliable structures," he said.

Skillen holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Montana State University and a master's and doctoral degree in civil engineering from Purdue University. His other research interests include field monitoring of structures, bond and anchorage of steel reinforcement, strengthening existing structures and design and reinforced concrete behavior.