We at the College of Engineering and Computer Science of UTC were thrilled to host Dr. Heather Brown, accomplished professor at MTSU, for a talk entitled “Build with Strength: Innovative Materials for Concrete Applications.” Dr. Brown began at MTSU in 2001, and was the department chair of the School of Concrete and Construction Management from 2011 to August of this year. Additionally, she has done research for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and has been recognized by MTSU as a “faculty member who makes a difference,” and by Rutherford County and National Concrete Construction as an “influential woman in business” in 2015 and 2017 respectively. She has been inducted into the Tennessee Concrete Hall of Fame; she is accompanied by a host of other credentials, a far-reaching area of expertise, and an extensive curriculum vitae.
Few would think to dwell on such an overlooked field, so it was enlightening to hear about Dr. Brown’s draw to this work. For her, it began in a childhood consisting of outdoor play and homemade structures. Materials mattered in a childhood of construction and disassembly, and interestingly enough, this love has translated into a flourishing career in the field of building so emphasized in her youth. Her early college career encouraged innovation and pursuit in the industry, and she strives to impart the same impression on her own students, who surely find themselves fortunate to have a professor who wants them to share in her passion for materials and construction.
In her talk with UTC, that passion was incredibly evident; she spoke with interest of even the history of concrete, which is the most used building material worldwide. Every day many of us frequent roads and bridges without a second thought regarding their intricacies, but to MTSU’s Heather Brown they are far from mundane. She sees opportunities in her field today for an increase in environmental friendliness of cement through an added chemical strength by way of a carbon dioxide and calcium hydroxide mixture and formation of calcium carbonate. This is all in hopes of carbon footprint reduction. This environmental chemistry application is known to very few, but to Heather Brown it is an object of passionate development which she seeks to share with those students fortunate enough to learn from one so invested in her field.