Category Archives: Civil Engineering

MSU researcher wins American Chemistry Society grant

EAST LANSING — Research into stopping the degradation and failure of offshore oil transportation systems has earned Roozbeh Dargazany of Michigan State University an American Chemistry Society Petroleum Research Fund doctoral new investigator grant.

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ACEC Recognizes Michigan’s Top Engineering, Surveying Projects

LANSING — The American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan honored firms for engineering and surveying excellence during the association’s annual Engineering and Surveying Excellence Awards ceremony.

On March 11, design professionals and guests gathered at The Fillmore Detroit to recognize outstanding Michigan engineering and surveying projects from the past year, as well as engineering professionals who have significantly contributed to the profession.

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LTU study finds ‘tow plows’ will clear snowy roads faster

SOUTHFIELD – With winter driving season just ahead, there’s hope that new technology can clear snow off roadways faster – and save taxpayers money.

A research report developed by Lawrence Technological University faculty says the state could shave almost $5 million off its annual snowplowing bill by deploying tow plows – trailers that swing out diagonally from the back of snowplow trucks that let them move snow off two lanes in one pass.

The report makes that projection after more than two years of testing and analysis with the state’s current fleet of 14 tow plows.

The report says that if state and county road maintenance officials had 42 tow plows in their snow removal arsenal – the number required to cover the entire state – it would save $4.8 million in personnel and other operating costs in a typical winter. That’s because the plows could clear snow from more lanes faster.

And there would be even more savings in avoiding winter travel delays and accidents, according to Nishanthra Bandara, LTU assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering, principal investigator on the study.

Tow plows “can plow a 24-foot-wide path down a road, meaning you can clear a three-lane freeway in two passes instead of four or five,” Bandara said.

The study, commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation, saw the tow plows tested in seven snowstorms between January 2014 and March 2015. Most of the tests were conducted on I-96 and US-23 in the Brighton area.

Bandara said he drove behind the tow plow in a truck outfitted with a road friction measuring device manufactured by the Danish pavement engineering consulting firm Dynatest. The device showed that the tow plow did just as good a job of clearing snow as a conventional plow truck.

The MDOT currently has 14 tow plows in 11 road maintenance garages around the state. Just using those regularly, the report showed, could save the state $1.4 million a year in snow removal operating costs. And if state and county road officials make the investment to fully deploy tow plows, the projected saving goes up to $4.8 million.

The study also included cost analysis of travel delays avoided in several snowstorms. By analyzing travel speeds on I-96 near Lansing when tow plows were tested, the report estimated more than $100,000 in travel delay costs avoided – in just one snowstorm.

Dozens of state highway departments, toll road authorities and private contractors around the country have adopted tow plows, the survey found. States using tow plows include Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, and Utah.

The report’s other authors were Elin Jensen, associate dean of graduate studies and research in LTU’s College of Engineering, and Frank Holt, retired senior vice president of Dynatest’s office in Westland.

State officials are enthusiastic about using tow plows, which cost about $90,000 each and are manufactured in Missouri.

“This study says to me that this new tool is safe and effective,” said Melissa Howe, region support engineer in maintenance field services for the MDOT. “We’ll see direct savings, and savings on the part of drivers in delays avoided.”

The cost of the study was $195,224, 80 percent of which was paid by the Federal Highway Administration.

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

MSU Researcher To Test Monitors On Mackinac Bridge

EAST LANSING — Some engineering professors had an idea to monitor bridges with sensors powered with the vibrations generated by traffic — the same concept behind those self-winding watches of the last century.

Those professors, including one at Michigan State University, think they have mastered the technology. But they needed a real-world platform to try it out.

Enter Bob Sweeney and the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA). Sweeney heard about the developing technology and knew the Mackinac Bridge, because of its status as a transportation icon and modern marvel of engineering, would provide a high-profile test site.

That’s why later this month, Nizar Lajnef, associate professor of civil engineering at Michigan State University, and professor Shantanu Chakarabartty from Washington University in St. Louis, will place six of these prototype sensors beneath the bridge.

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$2M Gift To Fund Bridge Research At MSU

EAST LANSING — The largest single donation ever given to Michigan State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will enhance research focused on the nation’s strained transportation infrastructure.

A couple from the Greater Lansing Area has designated $2 million of their estate to fund an endowed faculty chair with an emphasis on bridge research.

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Giffels Webster Acquires Clearzoning

DETROIT — Giffels Webster, a Detroit-based consulting firm providing infrastructure and land development services for public, private and institutional clients, has acquired Clearzoning, a planning and zoning consultant located in Lathrup Village.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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MSU Names Kodur Chair Of Civil and Environmental Engineering

EAST LANSING – Venkatesh Kodur has been named chair of the Michigan State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, following a national search. His appointment is effective July 1.

Leo Kempel, dean of the MSU College of Engineering, said Kodur brings a strong international reputation and worldwide industry network to the position.

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Civil Engineers’ Steel Bridge, Concrete Canoe Contests at MSU This Weekend

EAST LANSING — Teams of collegiate engineers from across Michigan and Ohio will be building 21-foot steel bridges inside the Breslin Center and racing concrete canoes at Lansing’s Hawk Island Park when Michigan State University hosts the American Society of Civil Engineers 2016 North Central Student Conference, April 7-9.

The conference hosts two intercollegiate design contests: the Steel Bridge Construction Competition and the Concrete Canoe Competition. Events are free and open to the public.

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MSU Prof To Lead National Civil Engineering Honor Society

EAST LANSING — Thomas F. Wolff of the Michigan State University College of Engineering has been elected national president of the 119,000-member civil engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon.

Wolff took office during the Chi Epsilon’s 44th National Conclave, March 10-12, at Northeastern University in Boston. More than 200 students representing more than 100 university chapters attended the event. Wolff will serve a two-year term under the theme, “Vision 2022 – the Next 100 Years.”

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Lawrence Tech’s High-Tech Parking Lot Part of White House Water Summit

SOUTHFIELD – A new water runoff control system in a parking lot at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield is among the water quality improvement projects that will be showcased at the White House Water Summit Tuesday, March 22.

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