Civil engineering is widely regarded as a foundation of human society. While I certainly believe this to be true, I do not think it accurately portrays our study and practice. Just as it has influenced our past and present, civil engineering has guided humanity into the future. And here at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, our students, faculty and staff are continually researching to find the next innovation, the next discovery that will drive our society, and our discipline, into the next century.
CE Impact Magazine - Fall 2018
Somebody has turned up the conference room thermostat, again. And a co-worker wears a blanket at her desk. Sound familiar? It is more than annoying. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 office workers, 46 percent reported that their office was too hot or too cold. In fact, building occupants affect up to 30 percent of its energy usage. The building sector in the U.S. accounts for about 40 percent of primary energy usage, 71 percent of electricity usage and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Panagiota Karava, the Jack and Kay Hockema Associate Professor in Civil Engineering, wants to help change that.
Suresh Rao studies failure. Specifically, he examines failures of the infrastructure networks that provide critical services to cities. By examining breakdowns and recoveries in urban infrastructure, he and his team are learning how to design and operate cities better — and help urban communities become more resilient. Rao, Professor of Civil Engineering and the Lee A. Rieth Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, views cities as complex systems, a conglomeration of engineered networks (utilities, power grids, roads), the institutions that manage them, and the communities that expect their demands to be met reliably and affordably.
A study completed in 2017 by the Lyles School of Civil Engineering was used by the Indiana General Assembly to realign the highway taxation structure that addressed the growing transportation-funding needs. The study concluded that the existing (at that time) fuel tax was inadequate to ensure that the state's roadways were maintained properly. According to the report, federal and most state fuel tax rates have not changed for many years. That and the increased fuel efficiency of modern cars has created a serious funding gap that is rapidly growing.
Electric cars that charge while driving? Purdue civil engineers want to make that leap. Konstantina "Nadia" Gkritza, Associate Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, studies the practicality of a roadway where electric-powered vehicles are recharged as they drive along it.
Sometimes big innovations are made through small steps. Civil engineering researchers at Purdue are developing a way to test the quality of newly laid concrete — through vibrations. Currently, quality testing for laid concrete consists of retrieving a sample from the site, taking it back to a laboratory, and then testing its compression strength. Associate Professor Na "Luna" Lu of the Lyles School believes she and her graduate students have developed a better, faster method.
When those adorable infants crawl across the carpet, they kick up a cloud of unsavory substances. Down there on their hands and knees, the babies are releasing — and inhaling — dirt, skin cells, bacteria, pollen and fungal spores. But just how much unpleasant stuff is released into the air? And how much does the baby breathe in? Brandon Boor, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, decided to find out. Boor and his research team built a robotic baby that both kicks up particles and monitors how much it inhales.
By infusing concrete with microscopic crystals made from wood cellulose, Purdue Professor Pablo Zavattieri, along with researchers from Purdue's School of Materials Engineering and Oregon State University, have shown they can make concrete stronger. This project, which started in 2011 with a National Science Foundation grant, is now moving from the laboratory to the real world with a bridge under construction in northern California this year.
For Lyles School of Civil Engineering alumnus Ron Klemencic (BSCE '85), competition drives innovation, and he’s not interested in losing his lead any time soon. Through his project and technical experience, Klemencic stands at the forefront of the construction engineering industry, especially in the advancement of performance-based seismic design methodologies, development of innovative structural systems, execution of cutting-edge research undertakings, and involvement with code development and enhancements.
The Lyles School of Civil Engineering strives to provide its students with opportunities to gain the best possible education and to ensure they're prepared to make an immediate impact in the profession. With that in mind, the school has announced a new professional master's degree option: the Civil Engineering with Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Management (CE-LEM) concentration.
Purdue Engineering mourns the loss of a beloved mentor, researcher and friend: Mete A. Sozen. He died on April 5, 2018, while visiting family in suburban London. He was 87 years old. Sozen's research revolutionized the field of earthquake engineering. Over the course of his 60-year academic career, he consulted and lectured around the world, earned dozens of honors, and was revered as a teacher and mentor. He taught at the University of Illinois until 1994, and then at Purdue University, where he was the Karl H. Kettelhut Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering. He advised 58 graduate students earning their PhDs — many of whom are now leaders in the field.
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