Professor of civil and environmental engineering – and self-proclaimed “concrete freak” – Tyler Ley, Ph.D., is on a mission to solve construction’s most pressing issues. Concrete, the second most used material in the world, has inspired Ley to lead ground-breaking research in making it more durable, sustainable and economical. 

Ley has also amassed a following of over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he creates educational videos about this heavy-duty material. 

“I just love concrete so much because it’s simple, yet it’s not – it’s complex at the same time,” he says.

Hailing from Oklahoma City, Ley earned his bachelor’s in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University in 2000. It was there that Ley’s passion for the concrete was first ignited. While studying for his classes, he listened to a presentation about concrete’s versatility. 

“It just blew me away. The hair on my neck stood up for like two or three days afterward,” he says. 

With encouragement from his wife, Jessica, he returned to school to earn both a master’s and doctorate degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas. Ley knew then that teaching was his calling. 

He moved back to Oklahoma in 2007, settling in Stillwater, where he now teaches graduate engineering classes at OSU. An avid researcher, Ley has led numerous projects, including the development of the Tarantula Curve – a tool that has become an industry standard for mixing concrete.

Alongside teaching graduate engineering classes at OSU, Tyler Ley also runs a successful YouTube channel about his favorite subject – concrete. Photos courtesy Tyler Ley

In 2017, Ley began creating YouTube videos, hoping to share his ideas and passion on a broader scale. The first videos he made were geared toward teaching kids about engineering. Unexpectedly, his videos sky-rocketed in popularity. 

“I just put them online. I didn’t do anything fancy with the thumbnails or titles,” he says. “I came back six months later and the first video, it had 70,000 watches,” he says. 

Realizing the potential to build a platform, Ley doubled down on YouTube, creating his channel, @TylerLey. He’s posted almost 300 videos that range from sharing research updates to analyzing mistakes in building designs. 

For his impact, research and teaching style, Ley has received many awards, including the 2022 Clyde E. Kessler Education Award from the American Concrete Institute. He was named Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence’s Research Professor of the Year in 2018, and in 2019, he was named one of the “Most Influential People in the Concrete Industry” by Concrete Construction Magazine

Ley is currently leading some of his graduate students in researching ways to optimize runway designs, a project funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. He’s also combining his love for concrete with 3D printing. Working alongside a group of students, Ley created a 3D-printed building on OSU grounds in under 14 hours. He envisions using this technology to help others in need.

“We’re trying to print some 3D homes for the homeless in Stillwater,” he shares. “If that goes well, we’d start printing more homes in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.”

Ley says the most important lesson he’s learned is to have faith in yourself. Despite adversity, his family and students are what continue to motivate him. 

“I teach these young people today, and I’m so inspired by what they can do, who they are and what they’re capable of,” he says. “I think the future is extremely bright.” 

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