Graduate Profile, Christian Armstrong, M.S.
Name: Christian Armstrong
Hometown: Grapevine, TX
Advisor: Dr. Jorge Zornberg
Area of research: Geotechnical Engineering or, more specifically, expansive soils
How does it feel to be graduating?
It really feels great to finally achieve my goal of getting a Master’s and taking another step closer to my ultimate goal of getting a Ph.D. I’m very grateful to be receiving a second degree from this wonderful university.
Why did you choose to pursue your graduate studies at UT Austin?
The University gave me a great opportunity to get into research as an undergraduate, and the program is fantastic for geotechnical engineering. Being able to give back to the state I love so much always was a big influence as well.
Looking back, who influenced you the most during your time at UT Austin?
The graduate students that came before me and did previous work before I started my project really influenced the research that I did and set a bar that I wanted to meet and exceed with my own research.
What projects did you work on while you were here?
My main project was developing a new centrifuge based method to quantify how expansive a soil deposit is by allowing for the testing of undisturbed specimens in an increased gravitational gradient environment. By placing the samples within the centrifuge, the soil’s swelling can be quantified more rapidly, and thus, this project is important for TxDOT to get results for upcoming projects. Further, we’ve used this technology and previous technology to develop a database of the critical expansive soils within the Austin District of TxDOT in order for them to have a better grasp of, based on preliminary geologic maps, what will be the problematic areas in the region. Other projects were working with a group on the examination of moisture fluctuation under various geotextiles in an expansive sub-grade and the use of a scanning electron microscope to examine expansive soils in Texas.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on continuing my time at the university by pursuing a Ph.D. and furthering the research I’ve done on expansive soils by incorporating results into the design framework for TxDOT. This work also includes further expanding the data base and moving further east to examine the Taylor and Wilcox formations. Further, I expect to examine how results from the field compare to results from the lab with a large-scale inundation test of the Taylor formation to see how the moisture fluctuates beneath the soil and the volumetric and vertical height changes from this test.