Faculty Profile

David J. Benson

Prof Emeritus, Structural Engineering

Computational mechanics and computer methods for solving problems in mechanical engineering.

Professor Benson's general area of research is the development of algorithms for nonlinear finite element analysis on super-computers. Applications include the detailed modeling of an automobile crashing into a wall. His current research includes the modeling of ductile void growth in metals at the microscopic level, the development of algorithms for Eulerian finite element programs, and the analysis of the shock compaction of superconductors. Automobile companies worldwide routinely use Benson's research on contact methods to simulate crashes and improve automotive safety. Additional applications of his research include simulating the effects of terrorist bombs on board aircraft, how explosives detonate on the microscopic level, the synthesis and processing of novel materials, and the ballistic impact of synthetic multifunctional materials that mimic the unique microstructures found in nature (e.g. spider webs, conch shells, etc). One recent, unique application of his research concerned the design by JPL of a Mars lander that would return a sample of Mars to Earth. NASA requires that the sample container be perfectly sealed to avoid contaminating Earth and the sample. JPL proposed sealing the container with explosive welding, a technique that was investigated experimentally by his colleagues and simulated with his research software.

Capsule Bio:

David Benson came to UCSD in 1987 after spending time as a research engineer at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His professional distinctions include: Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineering, Member of the ASME Committee for Computing in Applied Mechanics, and Member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the International Journal for Plasticity.


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, 1983, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1980, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1978, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Fellow, U. S. Association of Computational Mechanics


Office Phone:
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Institute Affiliations:

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology