Active Projects



Project Objectives

bridge deck corrosionCreate and deploy a novel toolset for the prediction of corrosion based on the structural features of a selected bridge deck. Physics-based numerical models for the prediction of corrosion in reinforced concrete decks will be developed. This new modeling framework will be embedded in an optimization framework to develop new best practices for bridge deck corrosion mitigation to guide both the design of new systems and the maintenance of existing ones. The ultimate goal is to identify the complex interrelationships between the temporal and spatial frequency of salt application and the corrosion mitigation strategies in place. Then, this new information will be combined with reliability-based optimization to provide guidelines for the operational control of bridge decks subject to corrosion mechanisms.

Dr. John Brigham:


Integrating Additive Manufacturing and Accelerated Bridge Construction Techniques

Project Objectives

Additive manufacturing printing concreteModular forms of bridge construction are of continuing interest. The needs of accelerated bridge construction (ABC) are resulting in improved modularity. There are several innovative planning, materials, and construction techniques that are being incorporated into ABC projects, including prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES). PBES are structural components that are built offsite, or adjacent to the alignment. The components are then transported and fitted together at the bridge site. Prefabrication enables reduced construction time and improved component quality.

There is a need for new technologies that can increase the construction quality of PBES, substantially reduce their construction time and labor cost, enhance their safety and reliability, minimize the environmental footprint of the PBES fabrication plants, produce structural elements with optimized topologies and enable in-situ repair of existing ABC elements via customizable design. Additive manufacturing techniques (3D printing) can be regarded as a viable solution to address these issues.

The primary purpose of this study is to explore the feasibility of integrating additive manufacturing with ABC techniques in Pennsylvania. In particular, this study would focus on identifying, fabricating and mechanical testing of a range of 3D printable prefabricated bridge elements currently used in ABC projects.

Dr. Amir Alavi:


Development of a Roadway Landslide Inventory and Analytical Tool for Southwestern Pennsylvania

Project Objectives

A roadway landslide prevention wallLandslides are a major disruption to road networks and infrastructure in Southwestern Pennsylvania due to geological conditions, changes in the distribution of precipitation, and anthropogenic modifications to the landscape. Given the scale of this disruption, transportation agencies and local governments have invested significant resources in landslide repair. However, this problem cannot b e examined comprehensively as information about landslides is spread across multiple government and non-government agencies and organizations. A unified inventory of landslide data that incorporates extensive geophysical information will enable interested party access to a comprehensive and consistent set of information that can guide mitigation efforts based on the cumulative experience across the region. It will also help identify the most important causes for slope failure and/or locations that are most likely to fail, and advance an effective proactive approach to landslide monitoring and mitigation.

This project aims to: (1) Design a structure for a unified inventory of landslides that addresses the needs of stakeholders; (2) Initiate a data collection effort focused on historical landslide observations to establish a working database and document workflows that enable the collection, sharing, and analysis of new data across agencies; 3) Demonstrate the power of comprehensive data through evaluation of collected data.

Dr. Daniel Bain:



Project Objectives

LIGHT-WEIGHT AND HIGH-PERFORMANCE METAMATERIAL CONCRETE DIAGRAMDevelop a “metamaterial Light-Weight-Concrete (LWC)” technology to fabricate lightweight and high-performance structural elements, with potential applications for pavement systems, bridge decks, and prefabricated bridge elements. A suite of metamaterial LWC systems with tunable compressive strength and ductility will be evaluated. A range of selected metamaterial lattices will be 3D printed and extensive numerical and experimental studies will be performed to evaluate and predict the mechanical properties of LWC cubes and beams reinforced by the MM lattices. The goal is to design LWC materials with a minimum compressive strength of 50 MPa, minimum toughness of 10 kN⋅mm, and maximum unit weight of 1200kg/m3.

Dr. Amir Alavi:


Material Compatible Repairs Evaluation

Project Objectives

Worker patching concretePartial-depth repair of concrete pavements and bridge decks is a rehabilitation technique that restores localized surface distresses in the upper one-third to one-half of a concrete slab depth. With proper design and construction, partial-depth repair should last as long as the surrounding concrete pavement making it a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to more costly and invasive rehabilitation options. Past studies have identified two major reasons for premature failures of partial depth repairs: (a) inability to achieve and keep adequate bond between the repair and the existing pavement due to improper repair material selection; and (b) incorrect repair dimensions.

To address the incompatibility issues between in-situ concrete and repair material, a previous research project entitled “Material Compatible Repairs (MCR) for Concrete Pavements and Bridge Decks” was conducted as part of IRISE’s first year program. Based on laboratory studies, the research shed light on the importance of using MCRs and best practices to develop a performance engineered repair material (PERM) to be used for the MCR. In this project, extensive and comparative testing is needed to validate and demonstrate the results of this previous research in the field. Concurrently, for the same repairs, investigate the ability of ultrasonic tomography testing to provide reliable information for required partial depth repair dimensions and evaluate bond condition after repair placement.

Dr. Steven Sachs:



Project Objectives

DOWEL CORROSION1) Determine corrosion mechanisms and critical factors in dowels using currently available models and databases, 2) Experimentally investigate corrosion development in a novel accelerated load test to quantify resulting loss of dowel performance, 3) Build predictive performance models using modeling and experimental results, which will be validated with field data, 4) Create a set of guidelines based on the results to inform pavement design and management practices.

Dr. Julie Vandenbossche:



Project Objectives

Concrete construction with large machineryTwo-lift concrete pavement construction, a technique that involves the placement of two wet-on-wet layers of concrete with different mixes, can balance the need for different materials in different depths of the concrete slab. This project will develop design and construction recommendations for two-lift concrete pavements for Pennsylvania conditions. This will involve testing appropriate concrete mixes for both top and bottom layers with a focus on the former’s high-performance needs and the latter’s economical and sustainable aspects. An experimental section will be evaluated, focusing on the challenges of working consecutively with two pavers and two concrete mixes. A comprehensive evaluation of the bonding conditions between the two layers will be performed and documented using non-destructive methods. The potential cost saving and reduction in carbon footprint will be evaluated.

Dr. Lev Khazanovich:



Project Objectives

Truck laying concrete on a roadDevelop material selection, construction, and inspection guidelines for successful and uniform use of seal coats in Pennsylvania. Best practices and experiences with the use of seal coats for asphalt pavements will be collected from various Departments of Transportation and experienced contractors with emphasis on the “do’s and don’ts” regarding seal coat design, construction and inspection. Current state and local practices from government and contractors will be assembled and visual surveys and forensic analysis of sections presenting seal coat performance issues conducted. These experience datasets will be compared to come up with recommendations for improving seal coat quality in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Eshan Dave:


Joint Design Optimization

Project Objectives

workers inspecting joint performanceJoint performance is dependent on the interaction between the individual elements of the pavement structure, such as load transfer, drainage, joint reservoir/sealant design, etc. Yet, traditionally, most of these individual elements are designed without regard to these interactions. For example, the selection of the joint sealant type and the design of the sealant reservoir must consider the pavement structure (base type, load transfer, slab length, dimensional stability of the concrete, etc.), the anticipated level of traffic and the expected opportunities for maintenance. Current sealant types, reservoir designs and construction practices will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of these practices and identify opportunities for improvement.

Joint performance is also dependent on the ability of the dowel bars to function properly. For this reason, corrosion-resistant dowel bars are being used more commonly. Current design procedures do not account for the additional life achieved by using these long-life dowel bars. Corrosion models and dowel corrosion performance data will be identified and evaluated to determine which of these can be incorporated into models currently available for predicting faulting.

Dr. Julie Vandenbossche, PE:


Three-Dimensional Micro-Mechanical Characterization of the Effect of Vibration and Compaction in Concrete Pavements

Project Objectives

The definition of the correct paving process to be used in different projects and conditions is a complex task that is severely influenced by environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and humidity), the type of concrete mix and layout of reinforcement and the manipulations performed during construction (i.e., vibration and compaction). The construction operations are generally performed based on established practices that do not take into account the specific conditions of the pavement. To this extent, advances in the description of the effects of vibration and compaction procedures could lead to the definition of practical rules to perform optimized paving in different conditions. The effect of each of the influencing factors needs to be accurately defined, in order to provide comprehensive guidelines and operational control for the optimization of the paving process in variable conditions and environments.

In this project experimental tools to enable optimized design and construction of concrete pavements will be built; the effect of vibration and compaction in paving processes under different environmental conditions will be investigated; computational tools to perform accurate parameterization of the solution space will be built to identify best practices and optimal results; and guidelines to provide more efficient construction of new pavements will be created.

Diagram showing vibration and compaction in concrete pavements

Dr. Alessandro Fascetti:



Project Objectives

Virtual reality streetview of a cityDevelop an interactive and immersive training platform using Virtual Reality (VR) to train construction workers, inspectors and other project site staff about the dangers caused by run overs, back overs, caught-in or -between, and struck-by accidents in the highway construction industry. The novel platform will immerse users into a detailed digital reproduction of a given construction site that will materialize a selected health & safety (H&S) training module in an immersive environment, while directing the users attention to observe and identify possible hazards. Such hazards will be randomly placed inside the simulation, where they will need to be identified by the users. The possibility of employing formal attention analysis metrics by means of new generation VR gear equipped with eye tracking technology will also be investigated.

Dr. Alessandro Fascetti: