They ease Twin Cities trafc problems and develop ways to retrot bridges
UA engineers tackle infrastructure woes
Using ‘More info’
Dean’s Viewpoint: By Tom Peterson
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Spring 2008 Vol 31 • No. 1
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ne o the most rewarding aspectso an engineering career is theopportunity it afords us to makesignicant contributions to society.Nowhere is that more evident than inthe contributions engineers make inthe atermath o tragic events.Last July, 11 people died when aninterstate highway bridge collapsedbetween Minneapolis and St. Paul,Minn. Tousands o other Minneso-tans were signicantly inconveniencedby the loss o this IH-35W bridge,a major arterial that carries 140,000vehicles daily.Tis tragedy highlights the hugeinrastructure problems acing theUnited States and the challenges andopportunities we ace as engineers.Tis country experienced incrediblegrowth and expansion in its highway and bridge inrastructure in the 1950s,’60s and ’70s. oday, those structuresare deteriorating, and many needrepair and or replacement.Tese highways are the lielines o our country and we don’t have theluxury o making repairs and replace-ments in the absence o signicanttrac demands.
Engineering Faculty Help Out
Tree members o our CivilEngineering aculty recognized theseinrastructure problems early on,conducted research over several years,and are now in a position to make sig-nicant contributions to solving theseproblems and others.Proessor Yi Chiang Chiu designsand builds sophisticated computersimulations that predict trac patternsunder the inuence o complicatedurban scenarios, including accidents,loss o arterials, and natural disasters.Te Minnesota Department o rans-portation has asked Chiu to modeltrac ow and to devise ecientstrategies or rerouting trac while theIH-35W bridge is being replaced. While Chiu’s work will helpMDO mitigate some o the immedi-ate trac woes, two other UA CivilEngineering aculty members havedeveloped technologies that couldbenet transportation departmentsacross the nation as they grapple withupgrading aging structures.Te Minnesota tragedy has takenthe discussion o inrastructure main-tenance and repair out o the academic journals and trac engineering pub-lications and placed it squarely on theevening news.Te general public now recognizesthe need or maintenance, repair andreplacement o bridges and that hun-dreds o billions o dollars in potentialexpenses and liabilities are involved.Reliable methods to retrot existingbridges, particularly methods thatcan return the bridges to structurally “as new” condition, ofer tremendousadvantages.
Proessors Hamid Saadatmaneshand Mo Ehsani have developedrelatively inexpensive ways to dothis using composite materials tostrengthen existing bridges quickly and without major trac disruption.It is particularly gratiying or me, asdean o the college, to see the signi-cant ways in which these members o our aculty and many others are con-tributing to society. Solving societalproblems is what we do in engineer-ing, and it’s great to be part o such arewarding proession.• While we’re talking about contrib-uting to society, I want to expressmy particular pride in Jay Alexander,one o our undergraduate students inMaterials Science and Engineering.He donated a large part o his timethis past summer to raise money orHabitat For Humanity. Jay and 28 o his soon-to-be-clos-est-riends participated in the HabitatBicycle Challenge. On June 1, thegroup let New Haven Conn. andpeddled or eight weeks and three daysto Seattle, Wash.Te ride let Jay in the best shapeo his lie and with an experience thatmost o us only dream o. And his ridecontributed to providing housing orpeople who otherwise could not afordit. Tis put Jay’s efort squarely in thebest traditions o engineers, whose jobit is to make lie better or us all.