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CIRI researcher employs modeling to design more resilient highways

2/3/2019 11:00:00 PM

Extreme weather -- such as the polar vortex that plagued parts of the country recently -- can take a toll on the nation's roadways.

CIRI researcher Dr. Vivek Tandon, a professor of Civil Engineering at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), is seeking to help address that problem by using computational modeling to evaluate transportation systems, such as highways, to create more resilient and sustainable infrastructure. His evaluations help officials determine what materials to use to construct highway infrastructure, with the goal of designing roadways that are both resilient to natural disasters and comprised of sustainable materials. 

Last summer, Tandon’s former students, Angel A. Rodarte and Jorge Navarrete, conducted research at CIRI on the resiliency of transportation infrastructure: specifically, the impact of hydrometeorological changes on the performance of Illinois roads. Now, Tandon has been awarded follow-on funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Summer Research Team Minority Serving Institutions Program. The project, titled “Identification of Critical Transportation Infrastructure to Enhance Resiliency During and After Hydrometeorological Event,” investigates how floods, droughts, storms, and the like wreak havoc on our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The award is administered by ORISE - the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, a Department of Energy (DOE) asset.

Tandon intends on using the funding to ascertain which components are most critical to the highway infrastructure.  He says, “We can’t enhance the resiliency of a system until we know which components are most critical.” 

His research team will explore the highway system that spans the El Paso, Texas, region. Tandon received the funding based on an internal review conducted by the DHS Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate Office of University Programs (OUP). Proposals that are awarded funding demonstrate that the team’s research is relevant to DHS and has the potential to contribute to homeland security.  Tandon intends his research to lead to the development of a group decision-making process, whereby transportation infrastructure resiliency is enhanced using sustainable approaches.