Short Course on
Engineering Applications of



Laboratory of Maintenance, Construction and
Safety of Structures
Department of Civil Engineering
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne
March 2-4, 1998


The main themes to be covered in the three days course are:

Concepts of Fracture Mechanics: Basic concepts of fracture mechanics; Linear elastic fracture mechanics; Mixed mode crack propagation; Fatigue crack growth; Design philosophies; Nonlinear Fracture Mechanics; J-Integral;

Fracture Mechanics of Concrete: Hillerborg's fictitious crack model; Bazant's size effect law; Punching shear; experimental techniques; Recent results on interface (rock/concrete) cracks.

Computational Models: Models for fracture, FEM discretization, solution techniques, objectivity, singular elements, domain equivalent integrals, interface crack model, smeared crack models for nonlinear analysis.

Hands-On: exposure to computer programs for discrete crack models (Merlin) and a smeared crack model (Sbeta), applications to practical case studies. Graphical postprocessors (PC).


The short course is intended for practicing engineers and researchers with some exposure to finite elements and who are required to assess the safety of brittle concrete structures.

Emphasis will be equally placed on sound theoretical coverage of fracture mechanics and its computational application in concrete structures, as well as on the practical application of those techniques in the analysis of structures.



Day 1:

Session 1: 8:30-10:00 Opening remarks, Course objectives; Why fracture mechanics, example of fracture problems (EB)

Session 2: 10:30-12:00 Fracture Mechanics theory I; stress singularity, Stress intensity factors, interface cracks, fracture toughness, energy release rate, design philosophies. (VS)

Session 3: 1:30-3:00 Fracture of concrete I; effects of heterogeneity, Hillerborg's model, K_Ic and G_F, testing methods. (EB)

Session 4: 3:30-5:00 Introduction of the computational tools, editor, mesh generator, program execution and graphical postprocessing. (JC, VS)

Day 2:

Session 5: 8:30-10:00 Fracture Mechanics theory II; mixed mode crack propagation, fatigue crack propagation, J Integral (VS)

Session 6: 10:30-12:00 Overview of computational techniques; material models for fracture, discretization by the FEM, solution techniques for nonlinear problems, objectivity. (MJ)

Session 7: 1:30-3:00 Smeared crack model I; Theory and program execution (JC)

Session 8: 3:30-5:00 Discrete crack model I; Theory (singular elements, equivalent domain integral), program execution (JC, VS)

Day 3:

Session 9: 8:30-10:00 Fracture of Concrete II; size effect, Punching Shear. (PM)

Session 10: 10:30-12:00 Non-linear analysis; constitutive frameworks (plasticity and damage theories), localization limiters, objectivity, advanced solution techniques for nonlinear problems. (MJ)

Session 11: 1:30-2:30 Smeared crack II; Case studies (JC)

Session 12: 2:30-3:30 Discrete crack II; Case studies in dam safety assessment (JC, VS)

Session 13: 3:30-4:15 Conclusion and discussion.

(Sessions marked in pink will be held in the PC computer laboratory of the Civil Engineering Department.)


Eugene Brühwiler is a Professor of Maintenance and Safety of Structures at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Before joining EPFL in 1995, he worked for four years in the field of maintenance and safety of bridges with the Swiss Federal Railways in Zurich. From 1986 to 1990 he performed research in the domain of fracture mechanics of concrete dams at EPFL and during a two year post-doctoral stay at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.

Jan Cervenka is an Associate with Cervenka Consulting in Prague where he is involved in practical applications of fracture mechanics and software development. His current consulting activities include: analyses of liner failure in nuclear containement vessels, non-linear fracture mechanics analyses for anchoring industry, damage assessment in buildings due to underground excavations and various non-linear analyses for pre-cast concrete manufacturers. As a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Boulder he was one of the co-developers of the computer program MERLIN and is currently participating in the development of SBETA, a program for non-linear analysis of reinforced concrete structures.

Milan Jirásek is a Research Engineer at the Laboratory of Structural and Continuum Mechanics of the EPFL. His doctoral dissertation, supervised by Prof. Bazant at Northwestern University, focused on fracture and damage of quasibrittle materials such as concrete. Currently he develops advanced numerical models for nonlinear fracture mechanics.

Philippe Menétrey received his civil engineering and doctoral degrees from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and his Master of Science degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has been involved in experimental and numerical research on shear and punching failure in reinforced concrete, triaxial constitutive models for concrete, and object-oriented non-linear finite element analysis. He is currently engaged in the design of various concrete structures in the consulting group Emch+Berger AG in Bern.

Victor E. Saouma is a Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a Visiting Professor in the Laboratory of Building Materials at the EPFL (1997-1998). From 1987 to 1996 he was the sole principal investigator of a major EPRI contract related to the safety of cracked concrete dams. This comprehensive project included: static, dynamic and hydrodynamic testing of large concrete specimens, centrifuge modeling of concrete dams, field measurements of elastic and fracture properties, 2D/3D linear/nonlinear static/dynamic finite element analyses.


Course notes will include an extensive set of lecture notes and program manuals.

Fee and Registration: The registration fee is SF 1,000. Students and researchers (EPFL, ETH) will benefit of a 50% reduction. The fee includes admission to the lectures, and to the cocktail party on Monday evening as well as the complete set of course notes. Meals and lodging are not included.

Registration is limited to 20 participants.

Another session is tentatively scheduled for July 1998 in Lausanne.

Cancellation with full refund will be accepted through March 1. Cancellations after that date will be subject to a 20% discount and no refunds will be made to registrants who fail to appear without notice of cancellation. The organizers reserve the right to cancel this course in the event of insufficient registrations, or circumstances beyond the organizers control. In the event of cancellation, registrants will be immediately notified and all fees will be returned in full. No other liabilities will be accepted.


The short course will be held at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) at Ecublens, which can be reached from the center of Lausanne by Metro in 12 minutes (departure every 10 minutes). Details will be supplied after registration.


A block of rooms has been reserved at Hotel Alpha**** (Attn: Mrs. Hofstetter), 34 rue du Petit-Chêne, 1003 Lausanne (near the main railway station), Tel. ++41-21-323.0131, Fax ++41-21-323.0145, at the special rates per room per night (taxes included but without breakfast):

Single room with shower: SF 90

Double room with shower: SF 130

The registrants are asked to reserve their rooms directly, mentioning the name of the course. These special rates are guaranteed until February 28, 1998.

Further information

Prof. Victor E. Saouma
Laboratory of Building Materials
Department of Material Science
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel: ++41-21-693.2827
Fax: ++41-21-693.5800

Ms. Ivor Cecco,
Laboratory of Maintenance,
Construction and Safety of Structures
Department of Civil Engineering
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel: ++41-21-693.2885
Fax: ++41-21-693.5885  


Participants are urged to register early, only 20 seats are available. You may register by filling up the following form. Please transfer the course fee of SF 1,000 (SF 500 if student/researcher at EPFL/ETH) with your name to the Swiss Bank Corporation, EPFL Branch, CH-1015 Lausanne, account COURS-FORM number F4-708,132.0, address Swift: SBCOCHGG10A


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