CIMR logo

Finding new applications for advanced materials is the central mission at the Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) at Lawrence Technological University.

Completed in 2008, CIMR was initially funded by a five-year, $11 million agreement with the U.S. Army. The 7,200-square-foot research facility with a 30-foot clearance height has a 25,000-pound crane to accommodate testing of structural components up to 100 feet long under various types of loads up to one million pounds.

A large-scale fire chamber with dynamic and static loading capabilities can test structural components in temperatures up to 2,300°F, including conditions like those of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

A full-scale environmental chamber – spacious enough for a large vehicle – can simulate harsh weather conditions such as blowing, freezing rain, sub-zero temperatures, or dry heat up to 180°F.

The ElectroPuls 10000 measures the performance of materials when subjected to pulling, twisting and repeated loads. The all-electric system doesn’t need any hydraulic mechanisms or a cooling system.

CIMR also has the MTS Model 311 Four Post Frame, which is a high-force test system that can be used for a variety of material property tests. It has an environmental chamber that can subject a specimen to temperatures ranging from -200°F to 200°F.

The facility is best known for developing new applications for carbon fiber in bridge construction under the leadership of College of Engineering Dean Nabil Grace. Many other advanced materials have also been developed and/or tested for applications in the military as well as in business and industry.

“We continue to invest in new testing equipment that will enhance our research capabilities in the future,” Grace said.



 The center is a prime example of the intersection of high technology and homeland defense. Building the center will help create jobs today, putting the technology the center develops to work will create jobs tomorrow, and all of it will help protect America’s troops. This is a win for our economy today and a win for its future.” – Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm


Work with the Best

Grace CIMR

Dr. Nabil Grace, Director of CIMR and Lawrence Tech
Students preparing for a concrete test.

Since his arrival at Lawrence Tech from the private sector in 1988, Dr. Nabil F. Grace, distinguished professor, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and CIMR director, has won more than 20 grants and contracts totaling more than $13 million to advance innovative materials research.

With more than 25 years of practical experience with carbon fiber technology, Dr. Grace is an international expert in bridges and transportation infrastructure. He has authored over 100 technical papers in national and international conferences, journals and magazines. He also holds three patents related to carbon fiber structures for transportation infrastructure and lightweight armor.

 Dr. Grace is widely sought after as a state, national, and international expert on innovative carbon fiber-reinforced concrete designs that have much lower life cycle costs and greater service life, resulting in outstanding sustainability. He is one of only two academic researchers on the Federal Highway Administration’s Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composite Bridge Technology Team.


Inside CIMR’s Testing Facilities

Fired Up To Help YouFire Chamber Burners

Each year catastrophic fires in the United States claim thousands of lives and cause billions of dollars in property damage. Lawrence Tech is meeting the challenge by examining how structural materials respond to very high temperatures.

CIMR houses a state-of-the-art Fire Chamber that enables researchers to conduct large-scale testing of structural components at temperatures of up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit and simulate conditions of the 9/11 tragedy at the World Trade Center. Large enough to fit a full-sized military HMMWV, the Fire Chamber also lets researchers conduct tests on military vehicles, especially those subjected to blast and fire on the battlefield.


Concrete MaterialsLet the Force Be With You

Lawrence Tech’s Center for Innovative Materials Research has three separate structural testing areas to accommodate multiple projects, handling structures up to 100 feet long with both static and repeated loads up to one million pounds of force.

CIMR can help you achieve:

  • Improved material characterization
  • Advanced prototype evaluation
  • Long-lasting, reliable products


Simulated Global Climate Testing

Lawrence Tech is enhancing its reputation for cutting-edge research by building an Environmental Test Chamber for testing vehicle components for military and other uses. This latest addition to the CIMR will include an actuator capable of delivering impact blows with up to 150,000 pounds of force on components being tested. The environmental/loading chamber will replicate the impact of both repeated and static loads in simulated climatic conditions ranging from Iraq to Antarctica.

The Environmental Test Chamber will:

  • Significantly advance U.S. Army materiel design, testing, evaluation, and durability, and result in the deployment of new high-strength, lower-weight vehicle armor to protect troops and save lives.
  • Meet all standards for full- and partial-scale vehicle and composite armor testing under harsh conditions, including salt spray, salt water, solar/UV light, relative humidity, and sand in addition to freezing, thawing, and dry heat.
  • No other facility in the United States can provide full-scale environmental condition testing and evaluation to meet Military 310 Global Climatic Data for Developing Military Product for an entire vehicle. 

Accent on Advanced Materials

On the battlefield:materials

Innovative and advanced carbon fiber materials are being developed at CIMR that can help reduce military vehicle and body armor weight while providing greater protection and durability for our troops.

On the home front:

Lawrence Tech’s CIMR team is developing and testing materials that strengthen and prolong the life of critical facilities such as office and commercial buildings, bridges, military complexes, airports, and highways. Get the answers you need to challenging questions about:

  • Product costs
  • Strength and stiffness
  • Durability
  • Expected life
  • Design measures

Discover how CIMR can be your one-stop resource for large-scale life-cycle durability testing research, development, and commercial deployment.

Let Lawrence Tech help you understand the performance characteristics of:

  • high-strength, lightweight carbon fiber composites
  • steel, aluminum, ceramics
  • other advanced materials

CIMR: Where Research = Results

Partnering for Your Success

Innovation is the key word at the Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) at Lawrence Technological University. CIMR researchers are working on innovative material and structural solutions for defense, homeland security, transportation infrastructure, construction, and automotive applications, to:

  • save lives
  • reduce injuries
  • cut costs

Make it stronger, lighter, and cheaper. Boost fuel efficiency, and build it to last for 30 years – or more.
Lawrence Tech can help you deliver product excellence.

Use expert CIMR researchers and facilities to explore:

  • New military vehicles that require armor weighing less than 100 pounds per square foot
  • Carbon fiber wind turbine blades that can withstand harsh changes in weather or climate
  • Advanced materials for commercial vehicles that reduce weight and improve fuel economy
  • Components that incorporate high-performance materials


CIMR researchers are collaborating with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and EngineeringCenter to significantly advance materiel design, testing, evaluation, and durability of military vehicle armor.

  Result: Deployment of new high-strength, lower-weight vehicle armor to protect troops and save lives. 

CIMR researchers are working with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Transportation to develop highway bridges that can last 100 years – twice the normal life span – by using innovative materials during construction.

  Result: Lower life-cycle repair and maintenance costs, fewer detours and traffic disruptions, and substantially safer travel for motorists.


Bridges to the Future

Sobering statistics ... more than 72,000 highway bridges across the United States are structurally deficient and more than 81,000 are functionally obsolete.

Lawrence Tech is playing a lead role in the research, development, and deployment of innovative, high-strength bridge technology designed to replace those structures … and avoid such tragedies as the 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis that claimed 13 lives.

Work at CIMR is advancing the industry’s current best practices for bridges and infrastructure to include the design of new non-corrosive carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) for building and reinforcing concrete bridges. Lawrence Tech also is conducting durability tests using this technology in I-beam construction.

In 2001, Lawrence Tech built the nation’s first highway bridge using CFRP rather than steel. The pioneering Bridge Street Bridge project led to CIMR being awarded a $900,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation 21st Century Jobs Fund in 2007 to deploy the CFRP technology on three new bridges in 2009 in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation.


CIMR Can Help

The Center for Innovative Materials Research at Lawrence Tech can help you develop new and innovative products that make a positive difference in people’s lives and solve important and challenging problems.

  • What product development problems are you working to solve?
  • What new materials are you developing?
  • What material characteristics are you seeking to achieve?
  • How long do you want them to last?


CIMR’s facilities and experienced university research team can get you the answers you need!

Mark Brucki

Mark Brucki

Director of Technology Partnerships


Nabil Grace

Nabil Grace, PhD, PE

Director, Center for Innovative Materials Research