Civil and Environmental Engineering

Contact Information

Kaven Hall, 107
Phone: +1-508-831-6487
Fax: +1-508-831-5808

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Mingjiang Tao

I teach geotechnical and pavement engineering courses at WPI. My favorite teaching activities are helping students develop critical thinking skills and become independent learners and problem solvers for their future career in civil engineering.

My areas of research are in the interdisciplinary aspects of highway infrastructure engineering, with the overarching goal to advance the state of the art in sustainable highway infrastructure engineering. One of my recent research areas is developing more durable and sustainable asphalt concrete through an interdisciplinary approach. For instance, we have been working on bridging the linkage between chemistry and mechanical properties of asphalt binder through atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based techniques.

Another area I work on is synthesizing and characterizing a new type of cementitious material—inorganic geopolymers from abundant industrial and energy wastes (e.g., fly ash, red mud, and rice husk ash) which will provide an economical and “greener” alternative to Portland cement for highway construction.

Research Interests

  • Characterizing highway engineering materials through experimental and numerical simulations approaches at both macroscopic and nanoscale levels.
  • Synthesizing “greener” cementitious materials (i.e., geopolymers) from various industrial and energy wastes.
  • Developing shallow geothermal energy for building heating and cooling.
  • Understanding fundamental behavior of granular materials through FEM and DEM simulations.


  • BS, Civil Engineering, Fuzhou University, 1997
  • MS, Geotechnical Engineering, Tongji University, 2000
  • PhD, Civil Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 2003

Featured Publications

  • M Zhang, T El-Korchi, G Zhang, J Liang, M Tao (2014). Synthesis factors affecting mechanical properties, microstructure, and chemical composition of red mud–fly ash based geopolymers, Fuel, Vol. 134, pp. 315-325, DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2014.05.058.
  • Goldsmith, J., H. Guo, I. Delacruz, S. Hunt, M. Tao, and S. A. Koehler (2013). Drag on intruders in granular beds: a boundary layer approach, Physical Review E, Vol.88, No.3.
  • Yu, X., N. Burnham, R. Mallick, and M. Tao (2013). A systematic AFM-based method to measure adhesion differences between micron-sized domains in asphalt binders, Fuel, Vol.113, pp. 443-447._ DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2013.05.084.
  • Zhang, M., H. Guo, T. El-Korchi, G. Zhang, and M. Tao (2013). Soil Stabilization Using Metakaolin-based Geopolymer, Construction and Building Materials, Vol.47, pp. 1468-1478. DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2013.06.017.
  • Tao, M., and Mallick, R. (2009). An Evaluation of the Effects of Warm Mix Asphalt Additives on Workability and Mechanical Properties on Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Material, Journal of Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2126, 2009, pp. 151-160. DOI: 10.3141/2126-18.
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