Category Archives: Activities Education Updates

MATS UTC Student of the Year: Will Baker

Prior to pursuing a PhD in geotechnical engineering at the University of Delaware, Will Baker logged significant hours on construction sites across the northeast as an intern and co-op student with Duffield Associates.  He gained valuable experience performing soil sampling, and field and laboratory material testing. This hands-on exposure to geotechnical engineering, a branch of civil engineering that investigates the engineering behavior of soil and rock, helped to determine Baker’s academic future.

Baker is now pursuing his PhD under the guidance of advisor, Christopher Meehan, PhD, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Delaware. Together, they see the promise of intelligent compaction (IC) and continuous compaction control (CCC), using sensors and spatial mapping, to radically improve the foundations upon which earthwork construction projects are built. The underlying principle is that a denser soil is stronger soil. Using current compaction equipment, such as drum rollers, inspectors rely on simple calculations, density gauges and spot tests to determine if the compaction passes/fails. Meehan and Baker are exploring how IC and CCC can provide real-time monitoring of the compaction process to provide 100% analysis of the prepared site and reduce reliance on random sampling.

Serving as a graduate research assistant and undertaking his PhD research, Baker is developing empirical models utilizing machine-learning techniques to better understand the relationship between CCC measurements and in situ measurements.  He continues to work on active project sites to analyze the compaction process with a compaction roller instrumented with a CCC system and is working to establish geospatial and statistical characteristics of CCC measurements during active construction.

“Will’s work on developing innovative techniques for effective quality assurance and quality control of soil compaction has the potential to yield a better finished product for constructed roadways at reduced cost,” noted Dr. Meehan. “His discoveries will help to advance our understanding about using machine feedback to guide decision making in a field environment, which will encourage the use of cost saving automation in construction. In addition, Will’s work ethic as a graduate student is second to none, and he is a real pleasure to work with.”

Baker and Meehan presented some of their findings at the 2016 MATS UTC annual meeting. Their poster, Utilizing a neighboring weighted-estimate method for outlier detection with a continuous compaction control data set, described the correlation of CCC readings with traditional in situ spot test results to develop target values for compaction, working toward the compaction roller as a QC/QA tool during the construction process.

MATS UTC has taken notice of Baker’s research progress, recently naming him ‘2017 Student of the Year’. “Will’s contributions to MATS UTC-funded research on CCC and soil compaction, as well as his leadership activities with other students, warranted the recognition,” stated MATS UTC Managing Director, Lindsay Ivey Burden.

Baker is currently the chair of the GeoCongress Planning Committee, organizing a leadership workshop for students at the national GeoCongress Conference in March, 2018. He will moderate a panel discussion with industry representatives from academia, governing agencies, consulting and more; providing students with opportunities to learn about career opportunities and industry trends from leaders in the geotechnical community.

Upon graduation, Baker intends to pursue his interests in soil compaction either in an academic or field setting. “Site preparation needs to be done correctly right from the start of the project,” explained Baker. “No matter whether a construction site is large or small, it’s hard to manage soil yet it’s the foundation of a safe and sustainable construction project. I’m excited to contribute to our understanding of soil preparation and the practical use of CCC technology on-site.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware and expects to receive his PhD in geotechnical engineering in 2020. Baker may be contacted at bakerwil@udel.edu. Meehan may be contacted at cmeehan@udel.edu.

Selected publications include:

Meehan, C. L., Cacciola, D. V., Tehrani, F. S., and Baker, W. J. (2017). “Assessing Soil Compaction Using Continuous Compaction Control and Location-Specific In Situ Tests.” Automation in Construction, Elsevier, 73, 31-44.

Baker, W. J. and Meehan, C. L. (2017). “Utilizing a Neighboring Weighted-Estimation Method for Anomaly Detection with a Continuous Compaction Control Data Set.” Proc., Geotechnical Frontiers 2017: Transportation Facilities, Structures, and Site Investigation, Geotechnical Special Publication No. 277, Orlando, FL, March 12-15, 2017, ASCE, Reston, VA, 55-65.

Cacciola, D. V., Meehan, C. L., Baker, W. J., and Tehrani, F. S. (2018). “A Comparison of Continuous Compaction Control Measurements with Localized In Situ Test Results.”  2018 ASCE Geo-Congress (pending).

Baker, W. J. and Meehan, C. L. (2018). “A Comparison Between of In-Place Unit Weight and Moisture Content Measurements Made Using Nuclear Based Methods and the Drive Cylinder Method.”  2018 ASCE Geo-Congress (pending).

2016 Undergraduate Research End of Summer Symposium

On Thursday, July 28, 2016 we will hold our second annual Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program (USRIP) End of Summer Symposium.  Our six UVA researchers will present posters in Thornton D223.  From 1pm-4:30pm we will hold an online webinar that will feature oral presentations from all eleven of our researchers at four MATS UTC universities.  The 2016 USRIPs are from seven different universities.

Webinar registration

Please come back to this news post that will eventually include all of the presentations, final reports and posters of our participants.

Our line-up on Thursday, July 28:

1:00 pm Welcome, MATS UTC Managing Director, Emily Parkany

1:05 pm Michelle Pasco (Old Dominion University, working at UVA)   Understanding Map Integration Using GIS Software (Presentation) (Report)
1:20 pm Benjamin Weible  (Marshall University, working at Marshall) Investigating the Impact of Skewed Pneumatic Traffic-Counting Tubes on Accuracy (Presentation) (Report)
1:35 pm Olufunmilayo “Fumi” Ogunye  (Morgan State University, working at UVA)  Transportation Corridor Resilience Assessment(Presentation) (Report)

BREAK (UVA USRIPs by their posters)

2:05 pm Rachel Carder (Marshall University, working at UVA)  Fabrication and Cyclic Loading of Superelastic Shape Memory Alloy Reinforced Polymer (Presentation) (Report)
2:20 pm Divannia Hill (University of Delaware, working at UVA)  Self-Sensing Cementitious Composites with Graphene Nanoplatelets Using a Simple and Scalable Fabrication Method (Presentation) (Report)
2:35 pm Alec l’Amoreaux  (University of Delaware, working at UD) and Marc “Gus” Touissant   (University of Delaware, working at UD)  The Effects of Neighborhood Size and Data Cleaning on Intelligent Compaction (IC) and In-Situ Data Comparisons (Joint Presentation) (l’Amoreaux Report) (Toussaint Report)

BREAK (UVA USRIPs by their posters)

3:20 pm Maria Rossetti (University of Arkansas, working at UVA)    Sample Study of a Bioretention Cell enhanced with Zero-Valent Iron and Biochar (Presentation) (Report)
3:35 pm Carolyn Pisciotta (Georgia Tech, working at UD) Quantifying Biochar Concentrations in Soil Samples (Presentation) (Report)
3:50 pm Megan Witherow (Old Dominion University, working at ODU) Analysis of Crowd-sourced Flooding Images Using Computer Vision Techniques (Presentation) (Report)
4:05 pm Abby Blase (University of Virginia, working at UVA) Projected flood impacts from Sea Level Rise, Tides, and Spatially Variable Storm Surge on Roadways in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA (Presentation) (Report)

4:20 RECEPTION at UVA (USRIPs by their posters)

Many thanks to MATS UTC and the UVA Center for Diversity for support of this year’s Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program.

Website for last year’s 2015 Symposium including video, final reports, oral presentations and posters of the nine USRPs who worked at UVA.

Student Spotlight: Elizabeth (Lizzie) Engel Assesses Resilience of Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Systems

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Engel knew for a long time that her aptitude for math and science, along with her fascination for bridges and other big structures, would lead her to become an engineer. Now completing her Master of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA), she is turning the vision into reality.

Working with advisor, Lindsay Ivey Burden, PhD, a research assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at UVA, Engel has devoted much of her academic career to studying ‘resiliency’, an approach used in engineering to monitor and revise risk assessments related to system-wide disruptions, failures or malfunctions. For transportation engineering, it refers to the ability of transportation infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, tunnels, rail and seawalls, to withstand and recover from external shock from such events as earthquakes, design failures, terrorism or weather.

Together with collaborator, Nii Attoh-Okine, PhD, a professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Delaware, the team is developing a multimodal transportation facility resilience index as a tool to calculate risk assessments. The index will help planning agencies, DOTs and public policy makers prioritize maintenance work and identify systems in need of retrofitting.

Although the resilience index is still under development, the research project is already yielding results. Engel is in the final stages of preparing her master’s thesis, Resilience of Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Systems, in which she studied the interconnectedness of roads and bridges in Albemarle County. Using graph theory and network science, Engel has modeled the system of major highways in Albemarle County, accounted for traffic volume by weighting the model’s elements according to AADT (annual average daily traffic), and simulated bridge outages using different loss strategies.  Random removal models disruptions that are equally likely to occur at any point in the network, such as weather events, while targeted removal simulates deliberate attacks.  Resilience is tabulated by observing the network’s response to node removal.  This approach can be applied to any transportation infrastructure system, not just highway networks.

Engel presented a poster on the same subject at the TRB International Conference for Sustainability in Transportation in May 2015. It was the only MATS UTC project selected for the conference. “We were very proud that Lizzie’s work was selected to be highlighted at the TRB sustainability conference,” stated Ivey Burden. “It goes to show how applicable her work is to many different transportation systems, and underscores the transportation community’s desire to make sure that the systems we have are as resilient and sustainable as possible.”

Up next, Engel hopes to secure an industry position working on structural design and rehabilitation. “My time at UVA has been extremely productive and inspiring. Now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and experience it as applied knowledge. I’m excited to take the information we’ve compiled and use it to assess system vulnerabilities in an industry setting.”

Engel will receive an MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia in August 2016. She expects to receive Engineer in Training certification in the summer as well.

She earned a BS in Physics-Engineering, double major in Spanish, Magna Cum Laude, from Washington and Lee University where she was a Johnson Scholar. As president of the Washington and Lee Engineers Without Borders, she travelled to San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala to assess water quality and access needs. The paper she co-authored, Microbiological and Economic Assessment of Ceramic Pot Filters Used Long-Term in Households in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, was selected for presentation at the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress in 2014.

Engel may be contacted at ere8ec@virginia.edu. ‎

MU Hosted the West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest Statewide Finals

Marshall University hosted the West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest Statewide Finals on May 21, 2016.  MATS UTC was among the sponsors and MATS UTC researcher Andrew Nichols helped advise the teams.  Forty-five students representing five high schools and five middle schools competed in one and two-person teams.  The objective was to design the least cost bridge that could hold a minimum desired load.  Overall design was evaluated as well as the most aesthetic and best strength to weight ratio. Winners received gift cards. 

Marshall Bridge WinnersMarshall Bridge 2Marshall Bridge 4Marshall Bridge 3

 

Revised Deadline!! Apply for Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program by March 15!

The Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC) will be again hosting an Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program (USRIP).  Researchers from across the country will be working with faculty and staff at all six MATS UTC consortium universities and the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) on a variety of projects. Rising seniors and members of underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply!

  • Participating Research Facilities: U Delaware, Morgan State, Old Dominion, U Virginia, Marshall, Virginia Tech, VA Transportation Research Council
  • Program dates: May 31 – July 29, 2016
  • Stipend: $4000 + out-of-town housing (and a limited number of meal stipends available, if federal aid-qualified)
  • Application requirements:  Application Form, Personal statement, Resume, Two letters of recommendation, Unofficial transcript
  • Revised Application Deadline: March 15, 2016  We will review applications on a rolling basis after full application packages are received.
  • For more information, please see the application form and last year’s Symposium web page for a video of last summer’s researchers and a list of their projects. Please direct all questions to Dr. Emily Parkany (MATS UTC Managing Director) at emilyparkany@virginia.edu.

Looking for Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program Participants — Apply by February 15!!

The Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC) will be hosting an Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Program (USRIP).  Researchers from across the country will be working with faculty and staff at all six MATS UTC consortium universities and the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) on a variety of projects. Rising seniors and members of underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply!

  • Participating Research Facilities: U Delaware, Morgan State, Old Dominion, U Virginia, Marshall, Virginia Tech, VA Transportation Research Council
  • Program dates: May 31 – July 29, 2016
  • Stipend: $4000 + out-of-town housing (a limited number of meal stipends available, if federal aid-qualified)
  • Application requirements:  Application form, Personal statement, Resume, Two letters of recommendation, Unofficial transcript
  • Application Deadline: February 15, 2016
  • For more information, please see the application form and last year’s Symposium web page for a video of last summer’s researchers and a list of their projects. Please direct all questions to Dr. Emily Parkany (MATS UTC Managing Director) at emilyparkany@virginia.edu.

USDOT FHWA Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG) Applications Now Open!

The US Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for the 2016 Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG). STIPDG provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and skills that will complement your academic pursuits. Funded by the Federal Highway Administration, STIPDG gives college/university students with hands-on experience and on-the-job training while working on current transportation-related topics and issues.  The 10-week, paid internship program will run from June 6 – August 12, 2016. For detailed program information, eligibility requirements, and the application portal, please visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/education/stipdg.cfm. The application deadline is January 15, 2016. Any and all academic majors are encouraged to apply!

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Student Spotlight: University of Delaware Undergraduate Students Spend Summer 2015 Studying Transportation Environmental Sustainability

As a professor of civil and environmental engineering, the director of the Delaware Center for Transportation, and an associate director of the MATS UTC program, Ardeshir Faghri, Ph.D, appreciates the importance of increasing the number of transportation professionals who can tackle complex transportation sustainability problems. So he was eager to mentor, through the MATS UTC summer research program, two University of Delaware (UDEL) undergraduate engineering students. Now halfway through the program, Angelo Glover and Shally Hernandez are fully engaged in a number of interrelated projects.

First, they are studying the reports and information produced by four University of Delaware environmental-related research centers: the Delaware Environmental Institute whose primary mission is to conduct research and coordinate partnerships that integrate environmental science, engineering and policy in order to provide solutions and strategies that address environmental challenges; the Center for Fuel Cell Research that promotes basic and applied research to improve fundamental understanding of fuel cells as well as to address critical issues and barriers to commercialization; the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy which is a leading institution for interdisciplinary education, research and advocacy in energy and environmental policy; and the Vehicle to Grid Program that has developed a set of interacting technologies, policies and market strategies to use the flow of power in and out of electric drive vehicles to electric grids while meeting driving requirements of vehicle owners. The students are also studying the projects and information contained within the Dubai-based MASDAR Institute of Science & Technology, a graduate level, research-oriented university focused on alternative energy and sustainability. Furthermore, they are learning about the six MATS-UTC projects that are currently being conducted by University of Delaware researchers.

Secondly, they are actively participating in traffic flow data collection using advanced Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology and presenting the data in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) format. This data will ultimately be used by the Delaware Department of Transportation for the State of Delaware Traffic Congestion Management Program. Both students will actively participate in the August 6 -7 MATS-UTC annual meeting that has been scheduled to take place in Wilmington, Delaware.

Glover is a third year electrical engineering student. He intends to pursue a career in the automotive industry, working in the field of automotive design. “Understanding traffic movement and doing actual field work is giving me the opportunity to see the transportation industry from a whole new perspective,” says Glover. “This research experience is really important. I’ll be a better automotive engineer if I can apply practical knowledge about traffic flow to vehicle design, especially considering things like visibility, speed and braking.”

Hernandez agrees that the summer research program opens doors to new opportunities. As a second year chemical engineering student, Hernandez was interested in a career in petroleum engineering. However, the summer research program has exposed her to a wide array of interesting challenges in other engineering disciplines, particularly related to the sustainability of transportation systems. “For example, it’s really important to be able to assess internal damage that might be occurring on a concrete bridge before any visual damage can even been seen. Transportation engineers are exploring new ways to do these kinds of structural assessments before there is any negative environmental impact,” she says.

Both students are actively involved in extra-curricular activities that support their career aspirations and round out their college experiences. Glover is the telecommunications chair for the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) and is a diversity enrichment leader for the UDEL Office of Admissions. He is an American Global Fellow, assisting international students to acclimate to college life in the United States. In 2014, he was the reception speaker for the Nucleus Program, providing advice to high school students on transitioning to college.

Similarly, Hernandez is a member of UDEL’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and Resources to Insure Successful Engineers (RISE). She was previously a research assistant with David Martin, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Materials Science and Engineering, with whom she studied the electrochemical deposition of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), particularly the cracking spaces of PEDOT-coated films. She is also a physics and organic chemistry tutor.

Glover and Hernandez concur that the MATS UTC summer research program has been a terrific way to spend the summer. “It’s exciting to see the creativity that engineers bring to solving transportation problems. The opportunity to be a part of the summer research program has allowed me to work on a project that has real potential to have environmental impact and I’m using parts of my education that I never thought I’d use,” explains Hernandez.

“Opportunities to work on real industry projects can be hard to find for undergrads. The summer research program is a great stepping stone to an industry career,” Glover concludes.

Glover may be contacted at aglover@udel.edu. Hernandez may be reached at hernands@udel.edu. Their faculty advisor, Dr. Faghri, may be contacted at faghri@udel.edu.

CEE and MATS UTC on McCormick Road Utilities Tunnel Tour

Our MATS UTC Summer Undergraduate Researchers and additional graduate students from the CEE Department visited the McCormick Road Utilities Tunnel under construction outside of Thornton on Friday, June 19th, 2015. A website describing the project can be found here:

http://fpc.fm.virginia.edu/projectsite/McCormickRoad/Pages/default.aspx

Our tour was led by Project Coordinator Caitlin Murtaugh and was joined by a safety engineer from Dewberry Engineering and Chief Facilities Officer Donald E. Sundgren.

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MATS UTC Summer Undergrad Researchers Visit VCTIR

VCTIR Tour2VCTIR Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our nine summer undergraduate researchers for our Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC) visited Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR) on the UVA Grounds on Thursday, June 11th. VCTIR Director José Gomez started our visit with an overview of VCTIR and then we were led around several laboratories by Associate Director Michael Brown. Dr. Brown told us about activities in the Geotechnical, Concrete, and Asphalt Labs.