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Research highlights- Spring 2018

June 11, 2018


Working to reduce failed deliveries, improve Seattle congestion
Getting packages in the hands of online shoppers while alleviating traffic congestion is the goal of a team of UW CEE transportation researchers. This spring, they are on the road to making this a reality. To address growing urban congestion in Seattle, which stems from a rapidly growing city coupled with an increase in online shoppers, researchers in UW CEE’s Urban Freight Lab, which is part of the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center, joined forces with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). The researchers are addressing a challenge called the “Final 50 Feet,” which is the complicated last leg of urban deliveries, when a delivery driver must locate both parking and customers. The researchers found that 87 percent of buildings in downtown Seattle do not have loading bays or docks and delivery drivers spend up to 73 percent of delivery time on tasks such as clearing security, riding elevators and looking for tenants. In April, the UW researchers and SDOT tested improvement strategies at Seattle Municipal Tower, where they piloted a smart locker system for delivery drivers to securely leave packages for tenants to collect at a convenient time.

An innovative approach to accelerated bridge construction
Stronger and faster are two words that describe a new type of bridge design that professor Dawn Lehman and professor emeritus Charles Roeder are working to bring into practice. The innovative design entails a new concrete-filled steel tube (CFST) frame system, which is comprised of hollow steel filled with concrete. By taking advantage of both concrete and steel, CFST systems offer increased strength and stiffness when compared to traditional reinforced concrete or structural steel systems. Another advantage is that CFSTs allow for accelerated bridge construction, as the steel tubes serve as formwork and reinforcement to the concrete fill, negating the need for reinforcing cages, shoring and temporary formwork. The new CFST bridge design concept was recently included in updated bridge design manuals by the American Association of State Highway Officials and state departments of transportation. 
Earthshaking information: researchers gather perishable data in Mexico 
Although rubble and cracks in buildings may not have tangible value, they provide priceless information to the research community. By analyzing damaged infrastructure in the wake of natural disasters, researchers gain insight that helps inform the development of more resilient communities. In the aftermath of the 7.1 magnitude Central Mexico earthquake in September 2017, which killed more than 350 people and collapsed numerous buildings, a reconnaissance team including professor Pedro Arduino and alumnus Jake Dafni (Ph.D. ’17), who is the site operations manager for the CEE department’s natural hazards research center, traveled to Mexico to collect perishable data. Unlike other forms of data, perishable data must be gathered quickly before it is no longer useful. By evaluating which structures survived and which ones suffered damage, the researchers hope to improve construction methods and engineering designs.
Interdisciplinary team improves floating community in the Amazon
Located on the banks of Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, a small informal settlement called Claverito floats for half the year during the wet season. As the community does not receive any government services, a team of interdisciplinary researchers including CEE assistant professor Becca Neumann are working to improve the health and quality of life of residents by implementing innovative interventions that improve the built and natural environment. Neumann’s research focuses on measuring E.coli levels in the water and exploring ways to improve the water quality, which community members use to bathe and swim. The interdisciplinary team includes faculty and students from UW’s global health, dentistry, nursing and landscape architecture programs who are evaluating the health of residents and determining how installation of a walkway and floating gardens in the community impact resident health.

Global research student map
The Arctic Ocean, Jordan and Switzerland are just a few locations where UW CEE graduate students conduct research. Learn about global research projects currently underway with an interactive map.