Dr. Matt Pierson, associate professor of civil engineering
Faculty endowment: Guy Mace/Turblex Engineering Professorship
- Bachelor’s in civil engineering, University of Kansas, 2006
- Master’s in civil engineering, University of Kansas, 2008
- PhD in civil engineering, University of Kansas, 2010
In the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center in downtown Springfield, research is happening that could affect how people test concrete.
Dr. Matt Pierson, associate professor of civil engineering, is on the American Society of Testing and Materials’ committee for fiber-reinforced concrete. The society, known as ASTM, develops standards related to materials, products, systems and services.
Traditional concrete is weak in “tension,” which means when it is pressed or stretched, it can crack or even break. Adding fibers — which can be made of steel, plastic, glass or other materials — while making concrete produces a material that holds together better.
The fibers don’t stop all cracks, but they make it harder to rip up or pull apart concrete. They can keep the cracks small, and they make the concrete more tough.
Pierson’s most recent research is related to concrete with steel fibers.
He is among a group of volunteers hoping to develop an ASTM formal standard for “a tensile test” of this type of concrete.
In a tensile test, also known as a tension test, pulling force is applied to a material, then the response to the pulling is measured.
“There are more than 20 different ways people have tried to do this test with this concrete, but when we rip it apart, we don’t do it the same way. To get a consensus, we need to show test data and results.”
A standard tensile test would help manufacturers of products, design engineers and testing labs get better performance out of fiber-reinforced concrete.
“Fiber-reinforced concrete is used in construction. If we can get a tensile test, it will help engineers design buildings.
“Also, different products could be compared in an apples-to-apples way, rather than everybody coming up with their own tests.”
Other current research involves local creek
This isn’t Pierson’s only research project.
He is also a trained geotechnical engineer who is fascinated with water resources, rainfall and river flow.
He has installed sensors in Springfield’s Jordan Creek to monitor the water level. These can provide valuable data to the city.
“The area is a floodplain, and this research can potentially give a warning about when flooding could happen.”
The data could also help the city better calibrate its rainfall-runoff model.
His research interests are on top of his teaching duties. His students have prepared some concrete specimens, and electrical engineering students are helping with the water monitoring.
“It’s a matter of public awareness for them,” he said.
Endowment made research dreams reality
Pierson holds the Guy Mace/ Turblex Professorship. He has worked at Missouri State since 2010, and held the professorship since 2016.
“Thank you. It will change a faculty member’s life in meaningful and long-lasting ways.”
The endowment has allowed him to do things he would not otherwise be able to do.
“I have been able to buy equipment. I have bought tools and supplies for the student designers on our steel bridge and concrete canoe teams. I have bought supplies for our 3D printer.”
He said endowments help teachers and researchers achieve goals, immediately.
“I dreamt up this stormwater project. If I didn’t have a war chest to pay to drill holes, buy sensors, etc., I would have had to seek out money or write a grant that may not even get funded. I have been able to get around all that. I can get the tools I need, right away.”
He’s appreciative of Guy Mace, a fellow engineer and businessman whom he’s met a few times, and all supporters of faculty endowments.
“They help recruit faculty, and help the faculty who are already here follow their dreams.”