Research Highlights

Highlights of some of the problems our faculty, researchers and students are working on solving.

Bridge ConstructionAccelerated Bridge Construction »
The bad news is that traffic delays due to construction are getting worse. The good news is that UW civil engineers are doing something about it. CEE graduate students and professors in Structural Engineering are working on ways to speed up the construction of bridges. Their goal is to reduce highway lane closures and minimize disruptions when a bridge has to be replaced or a new one needs to be built. The team is investigating ways to increase the use of prefabricated concrete for bridge substructures so that large pieces can be brought to site and connected quickly. 
Wastewater PipeImproving Estrogen Biodegradation in Water »
Estrogen compounds are of serious concern as contaminants of wastewater, causing feminization of male fish and limiting fish reproduction. The presence and problems of estrogen compounds have only been identified in the past few years; municipal wastewater treatment systems were never designed for their removal. David Stensel and Stuart Strand of the Environmental Engineering group have helped identify the class of bacteria that can degrade estrogen. Their research results point to wastewater treatment strategies to maximize estrogen removal.
distracted driver in labCoaching Distracted Drivers
Can coaching using an eye tracker to monitor drivers' gaze put eyes back on the road? A recent study by associate professor Linda Ng Boyle published in the Journal of Transportation Engineering looked at the effect of an electronic coach that uses an eye tracker to monitor drivers' gaze. With just a small amount of coaching, high-risk drivers more than doubled their time until a virtual crash. Transportation engineers in the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab research driving behavior and safety analysis.
Yellowstone Road Greenroads: Sustainability Metrics for Roadways »
Steve Muench, assistant professor in Construction Engineering, is developing a rating system that assesses the sustainability of new, reconstructed, and rehabilitated roads. Similar to the LEED rating system for buildings, Greenroads awards credits for approved sustainable choices and can be used to certify projects. Ratings credits can include runoff control, site recycling, long-life pavement use and transit access. The Greenroads system has been used in projects in Seattle, Oregon, Ohio, Wisconsin, Idaho, Denver, and Yellowstone National Park.
Jessica Lundquist launching ballMapping Mountain Temperature High in the Trees »
Jessica Lundquist's Mountain Hydrology Group is deploying innovative and inexpensive temperature sensors in the Sierra Nevadas, Rocky Mountains, North Cascades, and the French Pyrenees, to come up with general methods for mapping temperature patterns through space and time. The quantitative temperature data can help build realistic models and predictions of basin-scale snowmelt and spring stream flow. The team is part of the Hydrology, Water Resources, & Environmental Fluid Mechanics research group.
Drivenet map DRIVE Net: Putting Traffic Data to Use
Drivers can get travel times based on present traffic congestion. Shippers can plan freight routes using historical traffic data, or get real time data to be more agile. Researchers can access and visualize traffic data for studies of emissions, safety and design. Digital Roadway Interactive Visualization and Evaluation Network (DRIVE Net), connects multiple traffic data sources and puts them on the map for easy visualization. Professor Yinhai Wang with the Smart Transportation Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR Lab) is developing this region-wide, web-based transportation data platform.
System Response graphEvaluating Bridge Performance in Earthquake-prone areas »
How can we model what happens to bridges built on liquefaction-susceptible soils during an earthquake? HyungSuk Shin and researchers from Geotechnical Engineering used the PEER methodology performance model to capture highly detailed information on bridge damage states in different scenarios. It also estimates the cost of repairs in each case, providing further data for design and policy decisions.