Douglas Cairns, Ph.D.

Professor | Mechanical & Industrial Engineering


Doug Cairns is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering of the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department at MSU. Prior to coming to MSU, he was Manager of Composites Technology at Hercules Materials Company (Now Hexcel) where he conducted research on composite materials applied to primary structure. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a Member of ASME (Composite Materials Subcommittee), AIAA (past Materials Technical Committee Chairman). He is Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Studies Committee. His current professional interests include the understanding of advanced materials as applied to primary structure and understanding the materials, manufacturing, and structural performance link for new engineering systems. Dr. Cairns has funding from the Office of Naval Research, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Wind Technology Center, and the U.S. Air Force. Prof. Cairns is the Chief Scientist for Radius Engineering in Salt Lake City, Utah and consults for several industrial and private sector partners.



Dr. Cairn’s research has focused on the applications of advanced materials to primary structures. This research includes materials development, manufacturing processes, design, analysis, and testing. In addition, he has developed damage and failure criteria for advanced composites. He is currently working on manufacturing and testing new materials for wind turbine blade structures, and is characterizing new materials for other aerospace, civil, and marine structural applications. Other areas of interest include manufacturing process modeling, computational structural mechanics, and design methodology research. Dr. Cairns works closely with industry, with an emphasis on transferring research to the production environment. Research is at the Ph.D. and M.S. levels.

Current and recent research projects include:

  • Wind Turbine Blades (DOE)
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials Characterization
    • Damage tolerant design
    • Composite Materials (DOD)
    • Low cost manufacturing
  • New materials for Navy surface ships and aircraft