Shahlaa Al Wakeel, Ph.D.

Shahlaa Al Wakeel

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Areas of Expertise

  • Structural engineering
  • Structural mechanics
  • Materials science
  • Engineering


Ph.D., Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics, University of Colorado-Boulder (2017)


I received a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2017. I was then appointed a postdoctoral researcher assistant position where I worked on investigating crack propagation effect on the fracture resistance of composites material. My core mission in educating and advising is to engage students and prepare them for successful careers in civil and mechanical engineering by inspiring them to become the next generation of engineering innovators. My background in engineering gives me the critical knowledge and skills to modernize the curriculum and ways of teaching to better prepare students for this rapidly changing industry. My goal in all of the courses I teach is that each student develops a picture of the world at the microstructure level and couples that picture to the structural analysis by which we explain the mechanical behavior of the material.

Research interest and motivation:

Motivated by recent advances in material design methods that allow for the controlled engineering of microstructure, I studied the impact of microstructure on the mechanical behavior of composite material. I research ways to control the amount of crack development and to possibly improve the material’s reliability by controlling the spatial statistics of the particle microstructure in the matrix of a composite material. Recent developments in microscale fracture testing methods have revealed a greater sensitivity to the presence of particles as seen in random heterogeneous materials such as rock and ceramics.

My primary research interest combines experimental investigation with mechanics of materials theory and statistical analysis. In addition, I investigated the performance of construction materials in particular the reliability testing of bridge decks and I developed extensive knowledge of infrastructure resiliency. I found that the performance of the decks tended to converge to a certain state over time. Based on my findings, I proposed a global health index to identify the state-transition of in-situ deck conditions to reliably quantify performance and overall health.

Research areas:

  • Infrastructure resiliency
  • Mechanics of materials: fracture mechanics
  • Construction material tests and modeling
  • Concrete and Cementitious materials
  • Evaluation of performance of compostes material using experimental testing
  • Mechanics of anisotropic materials

Courses taught:

Saint Martin's University

  • ME 466-MME 566 Multibody Dynamics Systems - fall 2020, spring 2021
  • ME 451-MME 551 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics - fall 2020
  • ME 316 Measurements and Mechatronics Laboratory - fall 2019
  • ME 309 Fluid Mechanics Laboratory - spring 2020
  • ME 308 Fluid Mechanics - spring 2021
  • ME 303 Materials Science - fall 2019, fall 2020
  • GE 205 Dynamics - spring 2020, summer 2020, spring 2021
  • GE 206 Mechanics of Materials - fall 2019, fall 2020
  • GE 207 Materials Laboratory - fall 2020

NCIAE-Saint Martin’s University Joint Degree Program

  •  G001A220 Applied Mechanics-Dynamics- North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering (NCIAE)-Saint Martin’s University Joint Degree Program.

Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • MET 3160 Engineering Mechanics II-Dynamics - summer 2019
  • CET 3120 Engineering Economy - summer 2019
  • CET 3135 Mechanics of Materials with lab - spring 2018 and 2019
  • CET 4120 Reinforced Concrete Design - fall 2018
  • CET 3100 Construction Methods - fall 2018
  • CET 3185 Fluid Mechanics - fall 2018
  • CET 2150 Mechanics I: Statics - spring 2018
  • CET 4110 Senior Design- fall 2017 and spring 2018
  • CET 1100 Introduction to Civil Engineering - fall 2017

University of Colorado-Boulder

  • CVEN 2121 Analytical Mechanics I: Statics - spring 2018

Thesis and dissertation:

Shahlaa Al Wakeel, [Ph.D. Dissertation], Theoretical and experimental investigation of matrix inclusions on the fracture toughness of composite material. University of Colorado-Boulder.

Shahlaa Al Wakeel, [Master thesis], Evaluation of thermal stresses in continuous concrete bridges. Technology University, Baghdad, Iraq.     

Latest publications:

  • Al Wakeel S., Nemecek J., Linfei L., Xi Y., and Hubler M.  2019. “The effect of introducing nanoparticles on the fracture toughness of well cement.” International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control., 84, 147-153
  • Al Wakeel S. & Hubler M. 2018. “Introducing heterogeneity into the micro-scratch test fracture toughness relation.” Experimental Mechanics Journal-Society for Experimental Mechanics. Volume 58: 1237-1247, Number 8.
  • Al Wakeel S., Ghanbari F & Hubler M. 2018. “Particle arrangement effects on the stress intensity in composite material.” Engineering Fracture Mechanics. Volume 202, Pages 33-46.
  • Al Wakeel S. & Hubler M. 2016. “Experimental and Theoretical Investigation of the Impact of the Spatial Distribution of Inclusions and Flaws on Fracture Toughness.” The 9th International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures.
  • Hubler M. , Al Wakeel S.,  and Boning Wang. 2020. “Improving Concrete Toughness by Aggregate Arrangement” RILEM Technical Letters. 5: 8-15.


 ACerS Engineering Ceramics Division
I attended the 44th International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites that was held in Orlando, Florida from Jan. 26-31, 2020.

MIT-EMI Conference 2018
I presented the results of one of my recent work: Effect of introducing nanoparticles to the cracked concrete on its fracture toughness. The MIT-EMI Conference was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge from May 29-Jun. 1, 2018.

Rocky Mountain SAMPE 2017
I attended the Rocky Mountain SAMPE Advanced Materials and Process Engineering conference at the Colorado School of Mines, Golden on Oct. 5, 2017.

FraMCos-9 Conference 2016
I presented the results of my work: Experimental and theoretical investigation of the fracture behavior of glass beads/epoxy compositions using micro-scratching. The ninth International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures was held at the University of California, Berkeley from May 29-June 1, 2016.

American Concrete Institute 2015 
I attended the American Concrete Institute convention that was held at the Sheraton Denver, CO from Nov. 8-12, 2015.

American Concrete Institute 2013
I attended the American Concrete Institute convention in Spring 2013 that was held at the Hilton & Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis from April 14-18, 2013.