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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / December 1999

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-110
Date: December 1999

University of Michigan Student Takes Top Honors in LTPP Contest

During the past year, college students across the country were encouraged to dig into the data collected by the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) studies and to set up and conduct research projects based on that data. The purpose was twofold: to give students an opportunity to help shape tomorrow's pavement design and maintenance strategies, and to compete in the International Contest on LTPP Data Analysis.

The winner was announced and honored at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Christopher Byrum, a civil engineering student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, was awarded the grand prize for his research and paper, titled "The Effect of Locked-in Curvature on PCC Pavement." Another paper written by him, "Slab Curvature Detection in PCC Pavement Profiles," also won first place for the Zone II region.

Both papers show how slab curvatures can be analyzed using the LTPP data. Warped slabs have long been recognized as a performance problem for concrete pavements. The papers explain how slab curvature can be measured using the available LTPP high-speed profiles and how apparent locked-in slab curvature affects jointed concrete pavement performance.

"The winning papers by Byrum have the potential to make possible the most significant improvements in portland cement concrete pavement design, analysis, and performance prediction procedures in the past 30 years," says Roger Larson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Byrum combined his doctoral dissertation with his LTPP research. The contest "serves as a very powerful tool to focus the efforts of a student, and it gave me an opportunity to tailor and focus my research," says Byrum. "Overall, the contest promotes better work." Byrum was awarded $3000 for the national prize; he won $1500 for placing first at the regional level.

The other regional winners were:

ASCE plans to publish the winning papers are expected to be published in mid-2000.

The organizers of the contest were encouraged by the results of the first year. "I hope that there will be many more entries in the future," says Amar Chaker of the ASCE. "The students I spoke with seemed eager and enthused. I think that the fact they won will keep them interested in the field and get them off to a good start so that they will keep abreast of technological developments and continue to participate in the activities of professional societies such as ASCE in the future."

FHWA's Kurt Dunn also applauds the contest and its participants. He says, "It encourages students and academia to look at LTPP in a fresh new way to see if there is something we can do to improve performance models and design."

The contest is cosponsored by ASCE and FHWA, with support from the American Concrete Pavement Association and the Asphalt Institute.

For more information about the 2000 LTPP data analysis contest, contact Joan Hendricks at ASCE (telephone: 703-295-6199; fax: 703-295-6132; email: jhendricks @asce.org). Papers for the current contest are due June 1, 2000. Additional information is also available at the DataPave Web site (datapave.fhwa.dot.gov).

To obtain a free copy of the DataPave software, contact LTPP Customer Support services at 865-481-2967 (email: ltppinfo@fhwa.dot.gov).

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