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Inventor of Smart Concrete


EAS alumna Deborah Chung transferred to Caltech from Wellesley College seeking richer opportunities to study math and science. In June 1973, she became one of the first women to earn undergraduate degrees at Caltech.  She is the inventor of smart concrete, a material in which short carbon fibers are added to concrete so that stress and deformation can be easily detected even before cracks appear. "A broad-based education, that's what Caltech gave me—basic science and engineering," Chung recalls. "With that under my belt, I was able to learn things on my own. I never took any concrete or cement course in my life, never mixed cement in my life. In fact, in my studies, I was more toward the electrical side. Concrete was something totally out of my realm. But, somehow, I married the electrical side with the concrete, and that led to smart concrete. The broadness of the education laid the foundation so that I could really jump across disciplinary boundaries. Most innovations nowadays are really the marriage of two different things that reside in two different disciplines." [Caltech story]

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