Civil Engineering Research

Civil engineering faculty are actively engaged in a wide range of research areas including construction management, geotechnical engineering, materials, structures, transportation and water resources. Geotechnical research pertains to in situ testing of soils, fiber-optic sensors in soils and evaluation of pavements. Research in materials is being conducted in the areas of concrete materials at a fundamental level using nanotechnology to characterize their mechanical properties, fiber-reinforced concrete and nondestructive testing technologies, and stabilization of waste materials for beneficial uses. Structural engineering research is in the areas of wind and seismic engineering, control of vibrations, catastrophe risk modeling and wireless instrumentation development. Transportation research combines mathematical programming, network science and behavioral modeling to develop new transportation paradigms. Research activities include integration of novel truck datasets and analytics into enhanced models, development of business strategies for sustainable transportation, resilience in global interdependent systems and technological opportunities for freight transportation. Water resources research includes numerical groundwater modeling, design and performance of stormwater management systems, and physical modeling of unstable saltwater systems in groundwater.

Laboratories for research and instructional activities are available in the areas of materials and structures and soil mechanics. The materials and structures laboratory is equipped with several universal testing machines for physical testing, and equipment and instrumentation for experimental stress analysis. The soil mechanics laboratory contains commercial equipment for evaluating the engineering properties of soils.

Faculty research has been supported through several grants from the federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Research Council of Canada, Florida Department of Energy, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Energy Management, Florida Department of Community Affairs/FEMA etc.

Environmental and Water Resources Engineering

Dr. Pandit and Dr. Heck have worked together in several projects. While Dr. Pandit is an expert modeler, Dr. Heck’s expertise lies in laboratory and field data collection. Dr. Pandit has developed two finite-element ground water models, GROSEEP (Groundwater Seepage) and SOLTRA (Solute Transport), and two non-point source models CALSIM (Continuous Annual Load Simulation Model) and WEANES (Wet Pond Annual Efficiency Simulation). The research areas of interest of the faculty members in the Water Resources/Environmental Engineering area are listed below.

Numerical modeling of contaminant transport in subsurface media: We have recently conducted field, laboratory and numerical experiments to estimate the transport of groundwater seepages and nutrient loadings into a coastal estuary known as the Indian River lagoon from the adjacent watershed. Two of the numerical models used for this study are MODFLOW and SEAWAT. This research is part of a more comprehensive effort to determine nutrient loads into the Indian River Lagoon from various sources such as surface water flowing through canals, septic tanks and “muck”. Links to our recent publications and presentations are provided below: (Links 1 to 4)

Unstable flows using physical models: There are many real-world situations where a mass of relatively heavier fluid overlies a porous media containing a lighter fluid. For example, this is fairly common at landfills and waste dump sites, saline disposal basins, seawater inundation along coastal aquifers, and in estuaries. We have conducted laboratory and numerical experiments to study the transport mechanisms of overlying, heavier saltwater into underlying freshwater under various conditions. Links to a presentation we recently made is provided below. (Link 5)

Stormwater management: Our main areas of interest in Stormwater Management are in predicting non-point source nutrient loads from watersheds and in understanding the removal efficiencies of best management practices used to remove pollutants generated by non-point sources. Links to our publications are provided below. (Link 6)

Numerical modeling to understand the effect of seawater rise on saltwater intrusion

Geotechnical Engineering

Dr. Paul Cosentino’s research areas includes projects funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. Research includes miniaturization of the PENCEL Pressuremeter for evaluating unbound pavement layers, standard penetration testing to evaluate high pile rebound in Florida soils and quantifying pile rebound with LASER measuring systems best suited for Florida.

Structural Engineering

Dr. Nakin Suksawang’s areas of focus include analyzing and designing of fiber reinforced concrete structure, use of fiber reinforcement concrete in thin overlay and closure pours,  development of a resistivity based concrete service life model, assessment of resistance factors and reliability index for existing structures and non-conventional materials, development of textile-reinforced concrete for structural applications and service-life prediction based on real-time structural health monitoring data.

Dr. Jean Paul Pinelli’s areas of focus include development of catastrophe risk models with special emphasis on the vulnerability of the built environment to typhoons, disaster risk management and risk mapping, evaluation of the benefit and cost of wind, surge, and flood mitigation measure, development of cyber-infrastructure for natural hazard engineering research, measurement & characterization of typhoon wind loads on structures using a wireless sensing networking system and wind mitigation and performance-based design of tall buildings with semi-active dampers.

Transportation Engineering

Dr. Rodrigo Mesa Arango research in transportation engineering includes the identification of hierarchical value-chains encompassing freight transportation and logistics sectors in the United States with network-analysis approaches. Other research areas of focus include simulation and analysis of the impacts of automated truck platoons on travel time and reliability at freeway diverge areas.

Development of bidding advisory models for carriers in trucking combinatorial auctions. Three related papers published in Transportation Research Part E (Paper 1Paper 2Paper 3), and one in Transportation Research Record. Several presentations in the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, International Symposium of Transportation and Traffic Theory (ISTTT), and INFORMS. (Example Presentation)

Application of complex network analysis tools to describe the evolution of international trade networks. One related publication in the International Trade Working Paper series (Commonwealth Secretariat). One related presentation in the 94th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

Incorporation of freight transportation models in travel demand forecasting and transportation planning applications. One related publication in the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, and another publication in Transportation Research Record. One project is sponsored by Nextrans. One related presentation in the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

Development of multiclass dynamic traffic assignment paradigms to model the car-truck interaction. Research published in the Journal of Intelligent Transportation System.

Construction of behavioral models to understand the decisions of evacuees during hurricane evacuations. Three related papers published in Transportation Research Part CNatural Hazards Review, and ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering.

General transportation research topics interesting to Dr. Mesa-Arango include but are not limited to: autonomous/connected vehicles, transportation-based economic clusters, impacts of freight transportation improvements in economic competitiveness, mode choice in freight transportation, trucking combinatorial auctions, statistical analysis of transportation and trade networks, pedestrian safety in Florida, freight and logistics, interdisciplinary transportation modeling, network modeling, statistical and econometric modelling, trucking pricing and auctions, operations research, traffic assignment, agent based simulation, vehicle routing, game theory, among others.

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