September 2014

Welcome to eConnections

Greetings and a very warm welcome to the newest issue of CE Connections, the online newsletter for alumni and friends of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering! I am very pleased to be able to provide you with an exciting update of activities within your School. As you will see in this latest issue, our students, faculty, and staff continue to have enormous impact both locally and globally.

This fall we will celebrate the kindness of the Lyles Family as we recognize their generous contribution from the Lyles Foundation. This monumental gift will provide the opportunity for us to transform student learning, and both broaden and amplify our overall impact. We hope you can join us for Homecoming weekend when we'll honor the legacy of four generations of the Lyles family and celebrate their long-standing relationship with the school and with the university.

We continue to enhance global opportunities for students by increasing participation in our study abroad programs. Just this past May, 32 students participated in two different programs; one in New Zealand and the other in the United Kingdom. In this issue, you'll read of their unique experiences and the impact these global programs have on student learning.

Each semester brings with it new opportunities, new excitement, and new challenges. I truly appreciate your ongoing support and dedication to the school and to the success of our students. I invite you to stop by and say hello if you're ever on campus!

Rao S. Govindaraju
Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering
and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering

Upcoming Events

  • September 25-26 – CE Advisory Council Meeting
  • September 26 – Lyles School of Civil Engineering Gift Announcement and Celebration
  • September 27 – Homecoming Breakfast
  • September 27 – Lyles School of Civil Engineering Official Game Sponsorship

Lyles Family Gives $15 Million to School of Civil Engineering

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue Board of Trustees on Friday (Feb. 21) approved naming the School of Civil Engineering for the Lyles family in recognition of a $15 million gift from the Lyles Foundation.

The school will be known as the Lyles School of Civil Engineering. The gift will be used to broaden the school's capacities for learning and discovery and for generating solutions to critical global problems.

"The Lyles family has deep ties to Purdue and a long history of generous support for the university," said President Mitch Daniels. "This latest of so many gifts fits uniquely into the university's action plan to increase the number of engineers we supply to our state and nation."

In a statement, brothers Bill and Gerald Lyles said: "We believe that a reinvigoration of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines is critical for our society. We are so proud of Purdue for taking the lead in STEM education in the United States. We are delighted that Purdue is expanding all aspects of its highly regarded programs to meet the national challenge to educate future engineers."

They also noted that the School of Civil Engineering has been an integral part of their family and the industry in which they are involved.

"With proven abilities in experimental and computational techniques and our understanding of new and aging infrastructure, the School of Civil Engineering is addressing the grand challenges facing natural and built environments around the world," said Rao S. Govindaraju, the Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering. "The Lyles gift will enable us to amplify our impact through enhanced student learning and faculty research resulting in solutions that will lead to more sustainable and more resilient societies."

The Lyles family construction business was started in central California in 1945 by Bill and Gerald's parents, William Jr. and Elizabeth Lyles. It has since grown into one of the larger California contractors, specializing in water and other infrastructure. Under their direction, Bill and Gerald Lyles have expanded the enterprise into real estate development, real estate rentals and agriculture. They credit their Purdue civil engineering education for much of their success.

Bill Lyles received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1955. Gerald Lyles received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1964 and also earned a master's in industrial administration from Krannert School of Management in 1971. Bill's son, Will Lyles, earned bachelor's degrees in civil engineering and economics from Purdue in 1981.

Other members of the Lyles family are Purdue alumni, including William Jr., who earned a bachelor's in civil engineering in 1935; Bill and Gerald's mother, Elizabeth, who earned a bachelor's degree in science in 1933 and a master's degree in education in 1934; and Bill and Gerald's sister Marybeth Lyles-Porter Seay, who earned a bachelor's degree in speech, language and hearing sciences in 1959. Their maternal grandfather, Henry Gerald Venemann, was a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

The family previously contributed to the Lyles Family Ideas to Innovation Learning Laboratory (i2i) in the School of Civil Engineering. In 1992 their mother funded the William M. Lyles Computational Laboratory, used by the School of Civil Engineering and the Division of Construction Engineering and Management.

Lyles-Porter Hall, now under construction, is named in honor of a $10 million 2009 gift from Marybeth Lyles-Porter Seay. The new building will house the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Lafayette and other health programs.

Civil Engineering UK Study Abroad

Professor Darcy Bullock led a group of fourteen engineering students on a Study Abroad trip to the United Kingdom in May, 2014. The trip blended experience-based learning about 18th and 19th century civil engineering infrastructure with field visits to modern 21st century engineering systems under construction. The class began in London with visits to historical and cultural sites such as the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Tower of London and Churchill War Rooms. Students also had the opportunity to extensively use mass transit (London underground, light rail, heavy rail, bus) as well as a bicycle tour through downtown London.

Highlights of the trip included two days of field visits to Bechtel construction sites. Bechtel is the largest construction and engineering company in the United States and works on projects in nearly 50 countries. Students had the unique opportunity to see the progress of the London Crossrail project, which is a new 73-mile railway serving London and the surrounding areas. They visited a tunneling site near Canning Town, the downtown Bond Street Station, and the suburban Reading Station outside of London.

The last week of the trip was spent living and working together on two narrow boats. Students manually operated over 100 locks in order to navigate the 70' boats around the Stourport Ring. Along the way students were introduced to many bridges, tunnels, and viaducts while enjoying the countryside of the United Kingdom Midlands.

View more pictures from the UK Study Abroad experience

Posters that summarize the experience are displayed outside the Traffic Lab on the first floor of Hampton and available here:

Bechtel Crossrail Site Visits

London Sites

Stourport Ring Narrowboat Excursion

Earthquake Engineering Study Abroad in New Zealand

A group of 18 Purdue students traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand May 23rd through June 1st for the study abroad portion of a CE course on earthquake engineering. The team was led by Ayhan Irfanoglu, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, and Jill Churchill from the Global Engineering Program at Purdue. The University of Canterbury at Christchurch served as the host institute.

The location was unique in the sense that the city of Christchurch (pop. ~400K) is still trying to recover from a series of earthquakes that shook the city and surrounding area between September 2010 and December 2011. The devastating blow came on February 22, 2011 when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit the city during lunch time. It killed 185 people, caused nearly $40B of losses (with nearly 70% of the central business district damaged and to be demolished), and resulted in large areas of town being abandoned due to liquefaction induced settlement (the widest native soil liquefaction observed in modern history).

On the technical side, the group toured Christchurch and visited the town of Lyttelton, epicenter of the February 2011 earthquake. They viewed the devastation to the built environment in greater Christchurch and Canterbury region, and listened to testimonies at the Quake City Museum. The group had an ICOMOS-NZ Chair guided tour of the 19th century Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings (currently stabilized and preserved for the next generation to find out what they want to do as the funds fell short to retrofit them fully), and a lead-structural engineer guided tour of the 19th-20th century Arts Centre – the original site of the University of Canterbury, and where Rutherford developed his theory of the atom – undergoing $290M retrofit and restoration. Other tours of retrofit sites on campus included the Civil Engineering building, the so-called transitional Cardboard Cathedral (with an expected lifespan of 50 years), and the Cashell Mall Re:Start, the main shopping mall made creatively out of shipping containers. They also toured the civil engineering laboratories at the University of Canterbury.

In addition to the tours, the students were able to experience a number of engaging lectures given by Canterbury faculty, engineers (including three engineers from the Christchurch office of Thornton Tomasetti), and experts in seismology, structural and geotechnical earthquake engineering, civil defense and emergency response, recovery planning and field-application, and sociology.

Cultural events included a day trip to the coastal town of Akaroa (at the core of a long-extinct volcano), Okains Bay, and Arthur's Pass National Park in the Southern Alps. The team unwound during a fun-filled improvisational comedy show "Scared Scriptless," where one student from the group was brought on stage to assist in the performance. The trip concluded with a farewell dinner followed by a performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The show and the play were at the temporary hangar-like site of the Court Theatre, originally located in the Arts Centre the group had toured earlier. It was a pleasant surprise to find out the set, sound, and costume designers of the play were all Boilermakers, and a toast was raised to Purdue during the reception on the other side of the world!

The group was truly able to see a lot, learn a lot, and have a great time on the South Island of New Zealand. A summary of the trip from one of the students states:

"It was truly once in a lifetime, and I will never forget the experiences I had and all of the amazing sites I saw. I really hope that this course continues because I thought it was the perfect balance between lectures that kept me interested and taught me so much, and tourism throughout the Christchurch area. I had so many stories and experiences to tell people about when I came home. I have never seen, in person, the results of a natural disaster such as this, and I have never seen so much civil engineering work in one place to rebuild a city. The work that the civil engineers are doing in Christchurch have made me so proud to one day play such a crucial role in society like them, and be so involved in the community."

Kia Ora!

Seismic design team takes part in EERI competition

Students from Purdue's ASCE Seismic Design Team took part in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's (EERI) Undergraduate Design Competition. The competition was held in conjunction with the annual EERI Meeting and the U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Anchorage, Alaska between July 21st to July 25th. Nearly 30 teams represented universities from the U.S. and abroad.

The competition involved designing a high-rise building within dimensional constraints. The design was constructed prior to the competition with balsa wood and glue. At the competition, the building was put on a shake table which simulates 3 earthquakes. Points are given to each team in terms of profit and costs. Profit from the building is based on the theoretical rentable floor area. Costs of the building are based on the weight of the building (signifying construction cost) and the theoretical damage from the earthquakes simulated by the shake table. There was also a presentation and poster section to the competition. The representatives of the team discussed the design and its expected results in front of the competition judges and the other teams.

The students that represented the team are Kyle Johnson (Sr, captain), Laura Hillman (Sr), Joseph Voors (Sr), Kevin Jackowski (Jr), Marisol Tsui (Jr) and Connor Reising (Jr).

New Tool to Improve Geotechnical Site Investigation

Estimating the shear strength of soils just got a lot easier with a newly developed, fully-automated torque tool for the standard penetration test (SPT). The upgraded in situ test provides immediate results with real-time data, enabling engineers and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to advance projects with confidence and at a quicker pace.

The SPT is a common in situ testing method. Geotechnical site investigations in the United States rely heavily on the SPT. The test is used to determine the geotechnical engineering properties of subsurface soils. The SPT has served as a simple test to estimate the relative density of soils and approximate shear strength parameters for engineers planning geotechnical structures such as foundation design and slope stability checks. The test has remained essentially the same since the 1960s.

Purdue University researchers have now produced a new site investigation tool, SPT-T, which measures the torque T required to rotate the SPT sampler at the same depth at which the SPT blow count N is measured. This innovative approach better characterizes the soil, providing valuable data on shear strength, "particularly for clay soils and glacial till," says Purdue Professor Monica Prezzi. "It replaces the standard practice in such soils of recovering low-quality samples that are then tested in unconfined compression." Obtaining additional data at a lower cost and increased reliability will lead to more effective and economical design of geotechnical structures in these soils. Purdue Professor Rodrigo Salgado adds, "This adds value from an engineering point of view – for example, SPT blow counts in soft clays do not offer any resolution or reliability in shear strength estimation. In addition, this research helped fulfill one of our goals, which is to bring high-tech products with the most recent understanding of geomechanics to the practice of geotechnical engineering, which is still over-reliant on traditional methods."

One of the advantages of the SPT-T is that it takes only a few minutes to measure the torque and the conventional SPT procedure remains the same. This provides a reduced amount of effort for the user learning the new equipment. The test measures the torque required to rotate the sampler in the ground at constant rate; the torque is then related to the shear strength in these soils.

This tool has the potential to provide a substantial reduction in cost overruns and change orders caused by inadequate site investigations. "This two-in-one tool provides in-situ strength parameters in the field for design purposes as well as to obtain samples in one operation at the same time for visual inspection without mobilizing another piece of equipment," says Athar Khan, Manager of INDOT Office of Geotechnical Engineering. "Further, it enables the test to be performed during subsurface investigation, reducing transportation delay and sample disturbance. This will enable us [INDOT] to reduce the time and cost of laboratory testing on a project," adds Khan. The better and more reliable SPT data provides more confidence in estimation of soil properties for design, which would result in savings of up to 20 percent in geotechnical engineering project costs, given the large factors of safety currently used or implied in geotechnical design based on SPT results.

A demonstration on May 5, 2014 at the INDOT Office of Geotechnical Services in Indianapolis proved successful. The workshop focused on the use of in situ test-based correlations in the design of geotechnical structures. Shear strength correlations were reviewed, including those developed for the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP) project SPR-3317, led by Profs. Salgado and Prezzi. A demonstration on the use of the SPT torque equipment took place after the lecture, with results shared immediately after.

Photos from the event

4th International Conference on the Durability of Concrete Structures (ICDCS2014)

The materials engineering group has been the host of the Fourth International Conference on the Durability of Concrete Structures (ICDCS) which was held at Purdue University July 24-26, 2014. The conference was chaired by Prof. Jan Olek from the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, and co-chaired by prof. P.A. Muhammed Basheer from the Queen's University of Belfast, UK; Prof. Wei-Liang Jin from the Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, P.R. China; and Prof. Tamon Ueda from the Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.

The purpose of the ICDCS 2014 was to facilitate the exchange of information among experts working in the area of durability of concrete, with special emphasis on recent developments in the field. Over 50 experts from around the world presented papers on such topics as: freezing and thawing deterioration, carbonation, corrosion, transport properties, emerging binder materials, SCM and additives, materials characterization, structural performance, damage monitoring and repair.

The proceedings from the conference have been published by Purdue University Library Scholarly Publishing Services and are available (free of charge) at:

View photos from the 2014 ICDCS

  • Andrea Bailey (BSCE '13) was awarded the Indiana Institute of Transportation Engineers Edward J. Cox Memorial Scholarship, $2000; Andrea has also been selected to receive a 2014 Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship, estimated at $5000.
  • Fernando Dri (PhD '13) was named recipient of the Fall 2013 CE Best Dissertation Award for his dissertation titled Multiscale Modeling of the Hierarchical Structure of Cellulose Nanocrystals.
  • Bill Dudley (BSCE '74) was named President and CEO of the Bechtel group of companies which includes Bechtel Corporation and all of its subsidiaries worldwide. Bill had served as president and COO since 2008.
  • Charles MacLeod III (BSCE '77) was appointed to the New York State Insurance Fund Board of Commissioners.
  • Milo E. Riverso (MSCE '82; PhD '84), chief executive officer and president of STV, was recently elected to the position of chairman of The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).
  • Raymond Moore (BSCE '93) has been named a Senior Professional Manager in the New York City office of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global infrastructure strategic consulting, engineering, and program/construction management organization.
  • Greg Miller (BSCE '80) President of Diamond Construction Company located in Quincy, was elected as President of the Associated General Contractors of Illinois at the 107th AGCI Annual Convention held in Springfield.
  • Scott W. Zeevaart (BSCE '91, MSCE '93), was named director of the Gannett Fleming Transportation Division based in the firm's corporate headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Bob Bowen, (BSCE '62, HDR 2007) Chairman of Bowen Engineering, and Bill Dudley (BSCE '74), President of Bechtel Corp, rode 153 miles in the 2014 BP MS-150 from Houston to Austin (Texas), on the Bechtel Cycling Team. The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising cycling ride organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star. This ride is the largest event of its kind in North America – a two day, 180-mile journey from Houston to Austin. Breakpoints are positioned every 8-15 miles.
  • Ahmadreza Hedayat (PhD 2013) is the recipient of the 2014 Dr. N.G.W. Cook Ph.D. Dissertation Award. The award is given annually by the American Rock Mechanics Association for the best doctoral dissertation in rock mechanics or rock engineering.

Thanks for keeping us up to date with your contact information, life events, and career news. Send your updates to: Kathy Heath at

We'll make sure you get School information, news from campus, and event invitations. We'll also share your news and celebrate awards and achievements in our newsletters.

  • Darcy Bullock was chosen along with his research team, to receive the second annual Corps of Engagement Award from Purdue's Office of Engagement. The award recognizes outstanding partnership and achievement in engagement. Bullock and his team were recognized for developing performance measures for improving traffic performance based on real-time data they collected, as well as creating annual reports on travel characteristics using crowd-source data from mobile phones and vehicle telematics. Their nomination also cited their work on the Indianapolis South-Split project, Purdue football traffic management, and the help they provided the State of Indiana in recovering a greater portion of the cost of damage to state property during auto accidents. James Sturdevant, director of traffic management for the Indiana Department of Transportation, was among those providing letters of support. Sharing in the award with Bullock are his team members: Christopher Day, Alexander Hainen, Deborah Horton, Steven Lavrenz, Howell Li, Michelle Mekker, Teresa Morris and Stephen Remias.
  • Samuel Labi is the recipient of the Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award for his outstanding and innovative work in advancing the area of transportation infrastructure asset management systems. The Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award recognizes a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers for the best example of innovative or noteworthy planning, design or construction of transportation facilities.
  • Professor Emeritus Vincent P. Drnevich, P.E., Ph.D., F.NSPE was named to the Board of Ethical Review by the National Society of Professional Engineers’ president Harve Hnatiuk, P.E., F.NSPE. The Board of Ethical Review (BER) is a panel of engineering ethics experts that serves as the profession's guide through ethical dilemmas. The board consists of seven licensed members who are appointed by the NSPE president. Vince will be serving a three-year term and will represent the Central Region of the U.S. on the Board. The purpose of the BER is to render impartial opinions pertaining to the interpretation of the NSPE Code of Ethics, develop materials, and conduct studies relating to ethics of the engineering profession.
    Vince and co-authors (Salim K. Werden, John R. Hall, Jr., Chafik Hankour, Carolyn T. Conlee, and W. Allen Marr) have also been chosen as recipients of the 2014 Hogentogler Award. The award is presented for their paper entitled, "New Approach to Resonant Column Testing," appearing in the March 2013 edition of the ASTM Geotechnical Testing Journal. The Hogentogler Award is presented to the author(s) of an ASTM paper of outstanding merit on soil or rock. It recognizes meritorious effort and it is the most prestigious technical award given by Committee D18. The ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock presents this award annually.
  • Jason Weiss received the Murphy Award. This Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award is given in Memory of Charles B. Murphy and is the University's highest undergraduate teaching honor. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 cash award and the recipient is also indicted into Purdue's Teaching Academy which provides leadership for the improvement of undergraduate, graduate and outreach teaching.
  • Cary Troy is the recipient of Purdue's newly created Exceptional Early Career Award. This award was created by the Office of the Provost and the Murphy Award selection committee to recognize outstanding undergraduate teaching among Purdue's early career, tenure-track faculty. He also received the Early Career Research Excellence Award which recognizes early excellence with clear potential for future preeminence in research by faculty in the College of Engineering.
  • Chip Blatchley was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineering. ASCE fellows are legally registered professional engineers or land surveyors who have made significant technical or professional contributions and have demonstrated notable achievement in responsible charge of engineering activity for at least 10 years following election to the ASCE grade of member. Fellows occupy the Society's second-highest membership grade, exceeded only by honorary members.
  • Shirley Dyke received the Team Award as a member of the Colombia Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, recognizing excellence in research by faculty in the College of Engineering.
  • Antonio Bobet has been appointed visiting Chair Professor at the Innovation Center for Disaster Prevention in Civil Engineering at Tongji University in China, for the period 2014-2018. Tongji University is located in Shanghai and is well known for outstanding education and research in Civil Engineering. Professor Bobet will be working with faculty of the Institute of Underground Engineering and of the Innovation Center for Disaster Prevention to better understand the seismic response of underground structures and to develop novel methods for the design of buried structures to accommodate the deformations imposed by earthquakes.
  • Professor Emeritus Edward M. Mikhail was selected by the Geomatics Division of ASCE to receive the 2014 Surveying and Mapping Award for his devotion and contributions to the advancement of surveying and mapping, particularly his outstanding leadership in theory, research and teaching in higher education in the fields of photogrammetry and remote sensing.
  • Pablo Zavattieri and Nadia Gkritza have both been selected to attend the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium to be held October 26-29 at the National Academies' Beckman Center in Irvine, CA. The symposium is designed to recognize accomplishment, facilitate learning, and broaden collaboration of innovative practices in engineering education. Pablo, along with a team of researchers led by a University of California, Riverside professor of engineering have been selected to receive a $7.5 million Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant to uncover fundamental design rules and develop simple and basic scientific foundations for the predictable design of light-weight, tough and strong advanced materials inspired by a wide diversity of structures from plants and animals, including the mantis shrimp, toucan and bamboo. The multi-university team involves top researchers from the University of California (Riverside, Berkeley, and San Diego) Northwestern University, and Purdue University.


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