Rachel Adams, recent graduate of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, examines a structure in Nepal, following the 2015 Gorkha earthquake.

Earthquake Spectra, a leading journal on geotechnical engineering, recently published an article by Ben Mason, associate professor of geotechnical engineering in Oregon State University’s College of Engineering, recent graduate Rachel Adams, and colleagues from Caltech and Nepal. The article, Observations and simulations of basin effects in the Kathmandu Valley during the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake sequence, describes the Kathmandu Valley geology, analyzes motion from the initial earthquake and aftershocks, and identifies different factors responsible for the unusual ground motion that occurred in the region.

While publishing as a co-author is an accomplishment on its own, Adams had other notable achievements while at Oregon State.

During her graduate work, Adams accompanied Mason, her major advisor, on two research trips to Nepal. Their first trip occurred on the one-year anniversary of the Gorkha earthquake where Adams and Mason attended a workshop – with attendees from throughout the world – focused on reconstruction efforts. Through the gathering, they connected with Nepalese engineering professionals from government, academia, and industry who were eager to stay up to date on the best practices for their field.

“There is a large desire to improve education for engineering students and professionals, and consequently make improvements to infrastructure design and construction,” said Adams.

Through connections made with Nepalese colleagues, Mason and Adams identified topics for an earthquake engineering workshop, aimed at sharing current best practices on U.S. geotechnical engineering methods. In September of 2016, Mason, Adams, and researchers from other U.S. universities, presented the workshop at the National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal in Kathmandu.

“It was so valuable to interact with the engineering professionals in Nepal, and see their unique challenges for site investigations and construction in the very dense Kathmandu Valley,” said Adams. “We were there not only to teach and help to improve conditions, but to learn from them as well.”

Adams, who was an Evans Fellow in Oregon State’s Humanitarian Engineering program, participated in the Nepal activities with funding from the Evans Family Fellowship. The program supports research and travel for graduate work in humanitarian engineering through a generous donation from Dick and Gretchen Evans.

Much of the research in the Earthquake Spectra article employed data from previous trips to Nepal by Mason and the article’s lead author, Domniki Asimaki of Caltech. Together, they collected perishable data immediately following the earthquake – in an activity known as earthquake reconnaissance. As part of her graduate research, Adams worked with Mason and Asimaki on processing and reducing the data and making subsequent observations and interpretations. Essentially, the team investigated how the geology of the Kathmandu Valley changed the recorded earthquake motions, which is particularly relevant for the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

For Adams, who began her academic career at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, the quest for knowledge and helping others took her to unexpected places.

“It was amazing to be able to be submerged in a culture so different from the U.S., but also discover that the people there had many of the same goals as us,” said Adams. “They have proved to be an extremely resilient community, which is a great example for the Pacific Northwest with the impending Cascadia Subduction Zone event.”

Earthquake Spectra, the professional journal of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), is published quarterly in both printed and online editions in February, May, August, and November. EERI established Earthquake Spectra with the purpose of improving the practice of earthquake hazards mitigation, preparedness, and recovery.

In September 2017, the School of Civil and Construction Engineering recognized three faculty members for their contributions to students and the greater school.

Meghna Babbar-Sebens, associate professor of water resources engineering received the CCE Award for Excellence in Partnering, Andre Barbosa, assistant professor of structural engineering, the CCE Award for Research Excellence, and Kenny Martin, senior instructor, the CCE Award for Teaching Excellence.

Babbar-Sebens leads a $1.5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant is part of the new NSF-USDA INFEWS program focused on accelerating discovery and innovation at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems. The project is a collaboration between Oregon State and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis IUPUI and at OSU, Babbar-Sebens collaborates with Ganti Murthy, associate professor in biological and ecological engineering, Jenna Tilt, assistant professor in geography, and Jeff Reimer, associate professor of applied economics. At IUPUI, Babbar-Sebens is working with Snehasis Mukhopadhyay and Arjan Durresi, both professors of computer and information science.

In summer 2017, Barbosa along with Oregon State colleagues and researchers from partner universities put an innovative two-story structure made of cross-laminated timber (known as CLT) panels through a series of seismic tests to determine how it would perform in an earthquake. The tests were conducted at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure at University of California San Diego (NEHRI@UCSD) site, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Through the tests, they produced data that can be used in the design of a new generation of wood-frame high-rises, such as a four-story parking structure designed for Springfield, Oregon, and the 12-story Framework building in Portland. Scheduled to open in 2018, the 90,000-square-foot Framework structure will be the tallest mass-timber building in the United States.

Martin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering mechanics and structural engineering. In addition to teaching courses in statics, wood design, and temporary structures, Martin serves as a mentor and advisor to a number of graduate students, who appreciate his efforts greatly. “I really like Kenny Martin,” said student Alyssa Martin. “I had him for statics and he was one of the ones that really worked with me, just to kind of make sure I understood the whole concept of statics – and that you carry with you.”

These three faculty members are working to establish OSU as the partner of choice, lead research that will change the world, and provide a transformational experience for students – and ultimately create a better future.

Congratulations! The Oregon State University student team of Nathan Jones and Alessandra Hossley took first place, earning the Mohr-Circle Award in the 2017 GeoPrediction competition at the annual meeting of the ASCE Geo-Institute. Oregon State has won first place three out of the past four years in the competition, taking home the first place trophy in 2014, 2016, and 2017.

The objective of the GeoPrediction competition is for student teams to develop an accurate prediction of geotechnical behavior given detailed information regarding subsurface, boundary, and initial conditions, as well as the geotechnical, structural, and hydraulic loading. After developing their prediction, student teams present their methodology and findings to a panel of judges comprised of geotechnical practitioners and faculty.

2017 GeoPrediction Competition
The student team of Nathan Jones and Alessandra Hossley took first place, earning the Mohr-Circle Award in the 2017 GeoPrediction competition at the annual meeting of the ASCE Geo-Institute.

“The 2017 GeoPrediction challenged student teams, consisting of one graduate and one undergraduate student, to predict the time-settlement performance and lateral deformation of a highway embankment constructed over soft, compressible clays, using surcharge pre-loading and prefabricated vertical drains,” said Jones, a master’s student in geotechnical engineering. “Estimates of embankment settlement were made at 10, 20, and 30 days after construction began, while lateral displacements of the embankment toe were made to 50-feet below the existing ground surface.”

Advised by Armin Stuedlein, associate professor in geotechnical engineering, Jones and fellow team member Hossley, who is pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and forest engineering, began working on their prediction in September 2016 and submitted their detailed report in January. OSU was one of eight teams selected to attend the conference and compete for the Mohr-Circle Award.

“This was my first time participating in the GeoPrediction competition and I enjoyed the experience of synthesizing a variety of data for the prediction as well as the overall experience of presenting at a professional conference,” said Hossley.

University of Texas at Arlington placed second and the Middle Eastern Technical University of Ankara, Turkey placed third.

View the student team research poster.

Congratulations to transportation engineering graduate students Jason Anderson and Masoud Ghodrat Abadi. The Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (Pactrans) formally recognized Anderson as an Outstanding Student of the Year and Abadi as the winner of the Michael Kyte Award at the Transportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting.

Anderson is a graduate research assistant in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering. Previously, he completed his bachelor of science and master of science at Oregon State and is now in the first year of his doctoral studies. Anderson’s current research interests include transportation safety through use of behavior modeling and network design and resiliency using operations research methods.

“Jason’s determination and skill have contributed to the success of many of the projects that he has worked on,” said David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering. “For example, in a recent study, he implemented statistical techniques to determine where large-truck crashes were likely to occur in their relation to existing parking facilities on U.S. 97.”

Ghodrat Abadi is a third year transportation engineering Ph.D. student and currently serves as a graduate research assistant in the Driving and Bicycling Research Laboratory.

“Masoud embodies all of the characteristics expected in a recipient of this prestigious award,” said Hurwitz. “The Michael Kyte award places a particular emphasis on contributions to transportation engineering education, and he has repeatedly demonstrated exemplary performance leading individual lectures in civil engineering classes.”

Since joining Hurwitz’s research group, Ghodrat Abadi has served as the lead graduate student on three significant research projects including an NSF-funded study to develop conceptual traffic signal questions founded in qualitative engineering education research methods, an ODOT-funded study to design an improved red light extension system for isolated signalized intersections, and a PacTrans-funded study to evaluate conflicts between trucks and bikes in loading zones in urban environments.

Ghodrat Abadi is a current member of the TRB Committee on Transportation Education and Training, vice president of the OSU ITE Student Chapter, and served as a co-chair for the 2015 Region X Student conference.

PacTrans, of which Oregon State is a member, is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and is the Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) for Federal Region 10. Through the UTC program, the USDOT awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals – of which Anderson and Ghodrat Abadi are well on their way to becoming.

The Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans), of which Oregon State University is a member, was awarded $14.35 million over 5 years from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fund research toward improving the mobility of people and goods across the Pacific Northwest.

PacTrans is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and is the Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) for Federal Region 10. Through the UTC program, the USDOT awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals. PacTrans focuses on using technological advances to develop data-driven, sustainable solutions for the diverse transportation needs of the region.

“This new grant will serve as a force multiplier for the impact of transportation mobility research currently taking place at Oregon State University,” said David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering and associate director at Oregon State for PacTrans. “The traveling public in Oregon – and the Pacific Northwest more broadly – will benefit directly from these efforts.”

“Through this grant, Oregon State will conduct further world-class research toward increasing mobility and accessibility,” said Jason Weiss, professor and head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State’s College of Engineering. “Our region presents diverse challenges and this award will contribute to optimizing freight and passenger movement, connecting rural and urban communities, and more.”

Previous research at Oregon State funded through PacTrans includes improving cyclist safety by considering levels of stress, evaluating the potential to perform bridge inspections with unmanned aerial vehicles, preventing accidents during the construction of transportation infrastructure, and reducing the occurrence of lane departure crashes.

The University of Washington leads PacTrans. Other university partners include Boise State University, Gonzaga University, Oregon State University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Idaho, and Washington State University.

During October, 22 graduate students in transportation engineering traveled to Washington where they participated in two conferences. On Friday, Oct. 14, they attended the PacTrans Annual Meeting on the University of Washington campus and on Saturday, Oct. 15 the Region 10 University Transportation Center (UTC) student conference. At both events, students gained professional experience by attending technical sessions, networking with regional transportation professionals, and presenting in hybrid poster sessions.

PacTrans is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from five universities located around the Pacific Northwest. It focuses on using technological advances to develop data-driven, sustainable solutions for the diverse transportation needs of the region. This year, Haizhong Wang, assistant professor in transportation engineering served as the OSU representative on the organizing committee for the annual meeting, which had 217 registered participants plus additional attendees joining throughout the day.

Through the UTC program, the U.S. Department of Transportation awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance the state-of-the-art in transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals.

The Region 10 UTC student conference is unique in that it is planned entirely for students, by students. The goal is to provide a conference geared toward students’ needs, particularly those who plan to enter engineering practice following graduation. Zachary Barlow, a second year master’s student working with David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering and associate director of PacTrans, served on the conference organizing committee. OSU ITE student chapter members – led by graduate student David Covey, second year master’s student working with Erdem Coleri, assistant professor in infrastructure materials and transportation engineering – also contributed to the success of the trip by coordinating travel logistics for the large group.

OSU earned high marks at the student conference with Hisham Jashami, a second-year PhD student in transportation engineering who also works with Hurwitz, receiving first place in the student poster competition. The awards were determined by a voting committee comprised of Washington State Department of Transportation employees and student participants.

Thanks to events such as these, OSU students have impactful, experiential learning opportunities, which contribute to their success while in school – and beyond.

Merrick HallerMerrick Haller, professor of coastal and ocean engineering and associate head of graduate affairs, has been awarded a 5-year, $1.4 million research grant from the Office of Naval Research to investigate hazardous tidal currents in coastal inlets. Under the grant, “MINERS: Multiple Inlet & Estuary Remote Sensing,” Haller and David Honegger, postdoctoral scholar in the Nearshore Remote Sensing Group, will collect radar observations at seven inlets and estuaries across the U.S. for the purpose of better understanding the dynamic current fronts that develop on the ebbing and flooding tides and how they impact the U.S. Navy’s undersea acoustics operations.

“This is an exciting project for us for several reasons,” said Haller. “Navigational inlets are dynamic places that are often dangerous for fishing boats and cargo ships, so our observations will contribute to improved maritime safety. The U.S. Navy is also interested in these data because they show how fresh water coming out of the estuaries interacts with the salty ocean water forming internal tidal bores. These highly turbulent features are hazards to underwater vehicles and disrupt underwater acoustic communication systems.”

Haller joined Oregon State in 2001. He teaches hydraulics, coastal engineering, and ocean wave mechanics. His research program centers around the remote sensing of waves and currents in the nearshore ocean in order to better understand and forecast coastal hazards such as rip currents and breaking waves. Other efforts relate to the interaction between waves and wave energy converters and quantifying the downstream effects of wave energy arrays.

2016 ITE Transportation Education Council Innovation in Education Award At the August 2016 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) international annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., four members of the ITE University Transportation Curriculum Project (UTCP) including David Hurwitz, associate professor in transportation engineering, received the Transportation Education Council Innovation in Education award. Hurwitz, along with project members Kristen Sanford Bernhardt, Rod Turochy, and Rhonda Young received the national honor in recognition of their innovative work over the last seven years on challenges related to undergraduate transportation engineering education.

The group tackled their project by identifying barriers to the adoption of improved and innovative teaching methods, developing course materials, and building of a community of practice for transportation educators throughout the country. The group received their award not only for their innovative methods but also for their perseverance in absence of a funding stream.

“It has been a personally and professionally rewarding experience working with my colleagues, Drs. Young, Turochy, and Sanford Bernhardt, to produce an educational impact worthy of national recognition,” said Hurwitz.

University-based transportation engineering education plays an important role in the recruitment and development of transportation professionals. Through their efforts, the UTCP is working to attract and retain undergraduate transportation engineering students and better prepare them for practice or graduate school.

Big Beam 2016Oregon State University earned third place among competitors throughout North America at the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big Beam Contest. The contest objective is for student teams to fabricate and test a precast/prestressed concrete beam with the help of local PCI members. The beam must be made primarily of concrete without any trusses, arches, or other non-flexural members. Prizes are awarded to the top 20 performers in consideration of efficient design, highest load capacity, and other categories.

The Oregon State team from the College of Engineering’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering was comprised of Tyler Oathes, Cody Tibbits, Neil Schweitzer, Taylor Kiefel, Anh Nguyen, and Jonathan Kopp with faculty advisor Keith Kaufman, and PCI producer Knife River – Prestress of Harrisburg, Ore.

Congratulations to the students on an outstanding performance and thank you to PCI producer Knife River for your continued support of student learning at Oregon State.

 

2017 National Student Steel Bridge CompetitionOregon State University is pleased to host the 2017 ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC), May 26-27, 2017. The event, which began in the 1980s as a competition between three universities, is a cooperative effort between the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In advance of the national event, 18 ASCE student chapters host conference competitions with approximately 200 schools from throughout North America participating. The top teams from the conference competitions advance to the national competition.

This national competition provides students with:

  • design and management experience
  • the opportunity to learn fabrication processes
  • the excitement of networking with and competing against teams from other colleges and universities

At the NSSBC, student teams erect and test bridges that they have designed and fabricated to meet client specifications while optimizing performance and economy. Steel Bridge teams compete to be the best in aesthetics, lightness, stiffness, construction speed, construction economy, and structural efficiency. As the national host school, Oregon State students will lead the event planning and work with faculty advisors on fundraising, recruitment of judges, publicity, facilities and contracts, program, technical set-up, registration, and volunteer coordination.

Student Directors

Chelsea Farnsworth and Oscar Gayet

ASCE Student Chapter Faculty Advisor

Tom Miller

OSU NSSBC Faculty Advisor

Judy Liu