• Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983
  • M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981
  • B.S., University of Nebraska, 1979

Research Areas and Descriptors


Dr. McDowell joined Georgia Tech in Fall 1983 as an Assistant Professor. Since 1992 he has served as the Director of the Mechanical Properties Research Laboratory, a leading U.S. university-based facility for experimental studies of a wide range of engineering materials. In 1995 he was named Chair of the newly created Institute Materials Council that coordinates educational and research efforts in materials across campus. He has always been fascinated by the mechanics of how materials deform and fail. Over the past decade, he has shifted his research more heavily toward the use of high performance computing to better understand the mechanisms of deformation and failure within realistic microstructures to complement the experimental emphasis. A new era is dawning in which design of materials will replace the dated methods of discovery by purely empirical means — chance. It is undoubtedly true that computational simulations cannot and should not completely replace experiments, but computational methods will play a central role in this new age of designed materials. Hence, McDowell's perspective as holder of the Carter N. Paden, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Metals Processing is to focus on the relation of microstructure to metal forming processes, with emphasis on computational simulation but backed up by critical experiments. In addition, he is pursuing development of novel, "out-of-the-box" processing methods for metals and their alloys. His collaborations include faculty in various units of the College of Engineering at Tech, predominantly in Mechanical Engineering and in Materials Science and Engineering, in which he holds a joint faculty appointment.


Dr. McDowell's research focuses on nonlinear constitutive models for engineering materials, including cellular metallic materials, nonlinear and time dependent fracture mechanics, finite strain inelasticity and defect field mechanics, distributed damage evolution, shape memory phase transformations, deformation and damage of high temperature composites and heterogeneous alloys, combined computational and experimental strategies for modeling high cycle fatigue in advanced engineering alloys, multiscale computational mechanics of materials ranging from atomistics to continuum, and systems-based computational materials design.


  • ASM International Fellow for "advancing the state of knowledge in microstructure property relationships of structural materials," 2008
  • International Journal of Fatigue Co-Editor-in-Chief, 2007-present
  • Khan International Medal for outstanding, lifelong contributions to the field of plasticity, 2008
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    • Materials Division Senior Orr Award for the best fatigue and fracture paper to appear within the twelve-month period July 2005 through June 2006 in the ASME Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology.
    • Nadai Award (Materials Division), 1997
    • Fellow, 1995
    • ASME/Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal, 1987
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award, 2001
    • Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor Award, 2000
    • Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award Co-Recipient, 1993
  • Society of Engineering Science
    • Fellow, 2007
    • President, 2002
  • Jack M. Zeigler (BME 1948) Woodruff School Outstanding Educator Award, 2004
  • Society of Engineering Science President, 2002; Elected Fellow of SES in 2006
  • University of Nebraska College of Engineering Advisory Board Member, 2004-present.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Member of the M&IE Alumni Board, 1999-2002.
  • International Journal of Fracture Regional  Editor, 1997-2005.
  • Editorial Advisory Board, International Journal of Plasticity, 1991-present
  • Editorial Advisory Board, International Journal of Damage Mechanics, 1993-present
  • Editorial Advisory Board, International Journal of Fatigue and Fracture of Engineering Materials and Structures, 1994-present
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Multiscale Computational Engineering, 2002-present
  • Editorial Board, Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Structures, 2004-present
  • American Society for Testing and Materials Outstanding Service Award, 2001
  • Societ Francaise de Metallurgie et de Materiaux Medaille d'Honneur, 1994
  • Woodruff School Faculty Fellow, 1991-1996
  • American Society for Engineering Education Dow Outstanding Young Faculty Award, 1990
  • Alfred Noble Prize, Jointly awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1986
  • National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1986
  • Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph R. Teetor Award, 1986

Representative Publications

  • D.L. McDowell and F.P.E. Dunne. 2010. Microstructure-Sensitive Computational Modeling of Fatigue Crack Formation. International Journal of Fatigue, Special Issue on Emerging Frontiers in Fatigue, Vol. 32, No. 9, 2010, pp. 1521-1542.
  • D.L. McDowell. 2010. A Perspective on Trends in Multiscale Plasticity,” International Journal of Plasticity, special issue in honor of David L. McDowell, Vol. 26, No. 9 pp. 1280-1309.
  • D.L. McDowell, J.H. Panchal, H. -J. Choi, C. C. Seepersad, J. K. Allen, and F. Mistree. 2009. Integrated Design of Multiscale, Multifunctional Materials and Products , Elsevier, October 2009 (392 pages), ISBN-13: 978-1-85617-662-0.
  • D. L. McDowell, and G. B. Olson. 2008. Concurrent Design of Hierarchical Materials and Structures. Scientific Modeling and Simulation (CMNS) 15(1), 207.
  • D. L. McDowell. 2008. Viscoplasticity of Heterogeneous Metallic Materials. Materials Science and Engineering R: Reports, 62(3), 67-123.