Computational Engineering

TerMaath, Stephanie

Brief Bio

Stephanie TerMaath is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the area of structures at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Before joining the faculty in the fall of 2012, she managed a physics-based computing group at Applied Research Associates (ARA). This group focused on computational analysis spanning scales ranging from nano-composites through simulation of interacting full-scale systems. She previously held positions at Boeing Phantom Works and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics where she worked on numerous programs, including the High Speed Civil Transport, 737, 777, C-17, Delta IV, and Joint Strike Fighter. Her diverse technical background encompasses theoretical, computational, and experimental research, including advanced finite element analysis, structural mechanics, fracture mechanics, numerical simulation techniques, material properties development, and biomedical modeling.

She completed a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2000, an M.S. from Purdue University in 1995, and a B.S. from Penn State in 1993. As a graduate student, she won two “best student paper presentation” awards for her research in fracture mechanics. She is a registered mechanical engineer in the state of North Carolina and is an Associate Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


TerMaath’s research group investigates multi-physics problems using a probabilistic framework that consists of integrating and automating disparate methods. Through this approach, they quantify and propagate uncertainty throughout an analysis leading to a better understanding of the effects of input parameters and modeling assumptions on the results. Their research encompasses three fields of study: microcracking, hybrid structures, and intracranial pressure modeling.

To propagate microcracking in a material and to understand its effects on material properties, the group is further developing TerMaath’s dissertation research. Her numerical method is being programmed to use supercomputer resources. This code will be employed to optimize the combined performance of both graphics processing unit and central processing unit resources. The method will be expanded to 3D and interface cracking when it is optimized for 2D homogeneous materials.

Composite patches are adhesively bonded to a metallic structure (forming a hybrid) as a repair method to restore load-carrying capacity and damage tolerance to damaged components. Many parameters are critical to the performance of this type of hybrid structure: amount and type of degradation in the composite structure, number and orientation of plies in the composite structure, thickness and condition of the metallic structure, constitutive properties of all three materials, quality of the bond surface, differing coefficients of thermal expansion and damage tolerance properties of the three materials, disbonds, load redistribution, and stresses induced at the edge of the composite patch. To ensure reliable and optimized patch design, understanding the effects of the many input uncertainties and their interactions is imperative. In this study, TerMaath’s group is investigating the performance of composite patches under various impact-loading conditions and the sensitivity of performance relative to the uncertain input parameters.

Simulation of intracranial brain pressure and localized brain pressure, such as due to arachnoid cysts, can lead to improved treatment methods and a better understanding of the effects of these conditions. In addition to modeling and simulating brain-pressure scenarios, TerMaath is interested in developing and evaluating non-invasive techniques, such as imaging and vibration response, to measure brain pressure. Finally, she plans to create a generic brain module for physiology engines that includes the effects of increased pressure on overall physiologic response.