Fall is always such an exciting time here at Purdue University — both in what it brings and what it symbolizes. For most, this season represents the winding down of the year, the last flash of autumn colors before the cold winter takes over. However, for students and educators, fall represents a new beginning — a chance to make an impact, to make new friends, to reach greater heights, and to start off fresh in a new setting.
CE Impact Magazine - Fall 2019
Purdue civil engineers have developed a program that will allow the public to see exactly how vulnerable their homes are to floods, the world's most common and costly natural disasters. Mohammad R. Jahanshahi, assistant professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, says that with the expected climate changes for the next century, including sea-level rise, assessing flood risk is vitally important in order for coastal area residents and governments to make effective decisions about risk mitigation.
As death rates and damage caused by floods continue to be among the highest of all types of natural disasters, Purdue University researchers are developing a system to give citizens and emergency teams as much time as possible to prepare and respond to them. Venkatesh Merwade, professor of civil engineering, leads a research team that is working on developing a new approach for simulating floods in hyper-resolution. Merwade says that this approach is applicable for any region in the United States to accurately predict the effects of future floods.
At Purdue University, transportation engineers learn to identify and prevent potential disasters caused by aging infrastructure — by educating students and practitioners and by developing cutting-edge inspection and monitoring techniques. Purdue's Center for Aging Infrastructure (CAI), a 22-acre plot of ground nestled among farm fields south of campus, is home to dozens of steel infrastructure specimens that have been removed from their original locations and put on display. Visitors can walk around and examine numerous bridge components, including three full-scale bridges.
The launchpad for humanity's next giant leap will very likely start at Purdue University. Since well before Neil Armstrong made his — and humanity's — first step on the moon, a dream for many (and the basis for countless works of science fiction) has been to establish permanent settlements in space. And now, led by a research team from the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, humanity is closer to making that dream a reality.
Anne Bigane Wilson credits much of her success to the female engineers who came before her. So naturally she feels it is only right to guide and inspire young women learning to be engineers today. Wilson also credits her father, Edward Bigane, with instilling in her the importance of integrity.
In November 2018, California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire burned nearly 240 square miles in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The "Camp Fire" raged through the town of Paradise, killing at least 86 people and destroying most buildings and infrastructure. In particular, the firestorm ruined water pumps, hydrants — and miles of underground pipelines, which depressurized in the intense heat. Toxic chemicals from burnt materials and melted pipes seeped into the water system, where the liquid sat for weeks. One year later, the biggest problem in Paradise? A contaminated water infrastructure.
Brandon Boor, assistant professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been nationally recognized as a rising star in engineering research and education. In February, Boor received a 2019 National Science Foundation CAREER award. The award supports junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. The award comes with a five-year (2019-24), $500,000 grant for research and education activities.
Fall 2019 kicks off the inaugural class of the school's professional master's degree program, based in the Burke Graduate Program. With its focus on civil engineering leadership, entrepreneurship and management, the CE-LEM program provides opportunities for students to gain the best possible education and get prepared to make an immediate impact in the profession, whether they choose careers in industry or government.
Taking a page from nature, Purdue Civil Engineering researchers have created materials that get stronger when they crack. A team led by Lyles School professors has developed a new technique for 3D-printing cement. Pablo Zavattieri, professor of civil engineering; Jan Olek, the James H. and Carol H. Cure Professor of Civil Engineering; and Jeffrey Youngblood, professor of materials engineering, have developed a material that gets tougher under pressure — much like the shells of arthropods such as lobsters and beetles. The technique eventually could contribute to more resilient structures during natural disasters.
Around Lake Michigan, coastal erosion is progressing so rapidly that beachfront properties soon could be located in the lake itself, Purdue Civil Engineering researchers say. Since May 2018, Cary Troy, associate professor of civil engineering, and Ayman Habib, the Thomas A. Page Professor of Civil Engineering, have been using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) equipped with a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system, along with satellite images, to quantify coastal erosion around Lake Michigan. According to their findings, the lake's water levels are now at near-record highs, and the entire coastline is eroding at a very alarming rate.
With world-renowned research faculty and some of the most technically advanced laboratories and tools available, the Lyles School of Civil Engineering is one of the world's premier destinations for a graduate degree. These strengths provide students in the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program in Civil Engineering with incredible research opportunities — and that is what sets the school apart, officials say. It is not surprising that Purdue's graduate program was ranked No. 6 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2019.
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