Civil and Environmental Engineering research was presented at the Infrastructure Forum on November 18

The College of Engineering showcased its expertise in earthquakes, pavement engineering, science, transportation and water research to government, industry and academic institutions at the Infrastructure Forum on November 18, in a bid to drive further collaboration and partnerships.

About 50 infrastructure stakeholders, from the Nevada Department of Transportation to Granite Construction to UC Berkeley, attended the on-campus forum organized by the college’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). Lab tours, demonstrations, discussions and a student poster session showcasing current research projects are included in the event, coordinated by CEE Professor David McCallen.

A woman stands next to a poster explaining an experiment, and three people look at her.
Students presented research projects at the November 18th Infrastructure Forum.

The forum comes at a critical time for the country’s infrastructure. In a statement about the event, McAllen explained that the US infrastructure developed rapidly from the 1940s to the early 1980s, but has since progressed and, in many cases, is in disrepair.

“It took decades to make this situation, and it will take a significant period of national investment and remediation to reverse this trend,” McAllen wrote.

Engineers have been aware of this problem for years: The National Academy of Engineering—a nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in the service of the state—has listed “Restoring and Improving Urban Infrastructure” as one of its 14 Big 21 Engineering Challenges.Street Go back a century in 2008.

National policy now addresses this issue. Federal funding for infrastructure work will come to the state through the Jobs and Infrastructure Investment Act of 2021, a point made by Dean of Engineering Eric Jones in his forum speech.

“Advanced research and development is sorely needed to provide the foundational elements for the new generation of infrastructure for the nation to pursue,” said Jones. “We have this amazing group of researchers that they need to invest in.”

The Faculty of Engineering has long been working in this area, he added: fair infrastructure is one of its main areas of focus. Engineering and design of equitable community infrastructure to mitigate cascading local, regional, and global risks, including wildfires, water issues, and earthquakes, is a priority.

In the CEE division, there are research centers that specialize in those areas, including the Center for Earthquake Research in Civil Engineering, which is home to the recently introduced Laminar Soil Box system for soil-structure reaction testing; Western Regional Superpave Center, one of five centers established by the Federal Highway Administration to promote the application of superpave technology; and the Nevada Institute for Water Innovation, which worked with local government to test wastewater to determine community spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic and advanced water filtration of reclaimed water.

“We have people who visit (the college) and they are pleasantly surprised,” said CEE Department Chair Krishna Bagila in his welcome message to the forum. “But they shouldn’t be surprised.”

CEE brings in about $7 million in research funding annually and, according to Pagilla, was instrumental in the university achieving its R1 status in 2019 and growing its Ph.D. Student enrollment increased by 50% in the last three years.

“We have a faculty who is at the forefront of what they do,” he said. “This is what we want to show you.”

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