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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > September 2000 > Students Encouraged to Unlock the Data in Third Annual LTPP Contest
September 2000Publication Number: FHWA-RD-00-061

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Students Encouraged to Unlock the Data in Third Annual LTPP Contest

University students once again have the opportunity to analyze the wealth of data contained in the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) program database, as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) kick off the third annual International Contest on LTPP Data Analysis. "Nothing can substitute for the inquisitive young mind when trying to find ways to mind information and solve problems using real data," says Jim Sorenson of FHWA.

LTPP Screenshot
Screenshot from DataPave Web site.

Using the DataPave 2.0 software, which contains information on traffic, materials, performance, environment, and other variables at the more than 2,400 LTPP test sections across the United States and Canada, students choose a research topic. They then conduct the research, analyze the data, and submit the findings in the form of a paper for evaluation. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2001.

"The contest puts the data in the hands of professors and students, creating the opportunity to use this significant database for research, class projects, and Master's or Ph.D. theses," says Professor Gary Hicks of Oregon State University and chair of the contest Expert Task Group.

Possible analysis topics include traffic load characteristics; effects of traffic, environment, and materials on distress; mechanistic design considerations; and identification of distresses related to performance. Students can enter the contest on their own, work as a team with other students, or partner with a State highway agency or industry group. There is also a separate contest category for professors to submit course curricula developed using the LTPP data.

Papers will be evaluated by the following criteria:

  • Usefulness of product and potential benefit to end users
  • Originality of concept
  • Demonstrated use of LTPP database
  • Organization of paper
  • Presentation (including clarity and style)

The evaluation will be done by a committee consisting of ASCE members and FHWA staff, as well as representatives from universities, industry, and highway agencies. Winners are selected at both a regional and national level.

Contest winners will receive a cash prize and will be recognized at the ASCE National Meeting in October 2001. Selected winners will also be invited to participate in the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January 2002. Winning papers will be published by ASCE.

Christopher Byrum, a civil engineering student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, was awarded the grand prize in the inaugural 1998-1999 contest for his paper on "The Effect of Locked-in Curvature on PCC Pavement." The winners of the 1999-2000 contest will be announced this month.

For more information on the contest, contact Edwina Chen at ASCE, 703-295-6199 (fax: 703-295-6132; email: echen@asce.org). To obtain a free copy of the DataPave software, contact the LTPP customer service center at 865-481-2967 (fax: 865-481-8555; email: ltppinfo@fhwa.dot.gov; Web: www.ltppdatabase.com/main/htm). More information on the contest is also available at the LTPP Web site. Conference participants are also encouraged to subscribe to an LTPP and DataPave List Serve at the University of Mississippi that is sponsored by FHWA (LTPP-L@listserv.mcsr.olemiss.edu).

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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