Academic Credentials
  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), 2022
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), 2020
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Walla Walla University, 2017
Professional Honors
  • President’s Fellowship, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017-2021

Dr. Zirkle's background is in mechanical engineering with specialization in material deformation as well as fracture and fatigue. He has previously used advanced material models in concert with finite element analysis (FEA) to better understand experimentally observed fatigue processes, particularly in austenitic stainless steels (SS316).

Specifically, he has investigated the failure of stainless steel structural components exposed to damaging hydrogen environments in nuclear energy applications. In addition to solid mechanics, Dr. Zirkle's experience extends to the development of high throughput material characterization strategies leveraging techniques such as microindentation. Furthermore, He is proficient in the use of machine learning data analysis and is familiar with topology optimization strategies.

Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Zirkle received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focused on better understanding the role that dislocation structures play in the plastic deformation of metals and alloys, specifically nickel and austenitic stainless steel. Dr. Zirkle developed a novel, multiscale crystal plasticity code and used it to investigate mesoscale dislocation processes, ultimately making connections to nanoscale simulations as well as macroscale experimental observations. This framework was used to directly study the role that hydrogen plays in modifying deformation behaviors near a fatigued crack.

Dr. Zirkle translated these findings to the engineering component level, enabling more precise root cause failure analysis and permitting materials designers to account for complex load histories and damaging hydrogen environments. In addition to his graduate research, Dr. Zirkle has also spent time at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Sandia National Laboratories, working on light-based surface roughness characterization and topology optimization, respectively.

Dr. Zirkle is proficient with the modeling software Ansys, Abaqus, and Dream3D as well as the coding languages MATLAB, Python, and Fortran.