Ph.D. Student Yirong Zhou Awarded Competitive Scholarship

Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student Yirong Zhou was recently awarded a scholarship from the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Winners of the $500 scholarships are selected based on outstanding scholarship, work experience, and activity within their student section of ITE.

Zhou’s research focuses on data-driven transportation engineering, including operation research, optimization, machine learning, and spatio-temporal analysis and simulation.

His Ph.D. advisor has been CvEEN associate professor Dr. Xiaoyue Cathy Liu. Like Zhou, Dr. Liu’s research interests lie in sustainable transportation, in which she has extensive research and service.

Zhou is an exemplary CvEEN graduate student. He’s been involved in several projects sponsored by National Science Foundation,  Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2), National Institute for Transportation and Communities, and Mountain-Plains Consortium.

CvEEN’s transportation engineering program places an emphasis on the applications of state-of-art advancements concerning planning, design, operations, maintenance, and assessment of transportation systems. Students conduct research in the area of the transportation system design and modeling, address contemporary issues such as shared mobility, vehicle electrification and automation, and develop excellent problem-solving skill sets.



Two Department Grad Students and Professor Zhu Bring Rail and Transit Safety to UTA TRAX

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering team developed and demonstrated system that provides damage detection and diagnoses

Two CvEEN Ph.D. students and Assistant Professor Peter Zhu conducted a field demonstration on the UTA TRAX blue and green lines with Utah Transit Authority and Federal Transit Administration representatives in attendance.

The infrastructure Sensing and Experimental Mechanics (iSEM) team held the demonstration May 2023 on UTA TRAX’s blue and green lines. Moein Ramezanpourkami (Ph.D. student), Yuning Wu (Ph.D. student), and Peter Zhu (PI), developed and deployed a polarized infrared camera-based prototype system on a UTA train.

The system performed rail track condition assessment and diagnostics, providing reliable damage detection and diagnosis for timber and concrete sleepers with an inspection speed of up to 35 mph.

Once installed on operating trains, this system — developed by CvEEN students and Professor Zhu — will enable big data analytics for network scale real-time track condition assessment.

The team collaborated with an Amsterdam-based startup company, AutoFill Technology, Inc., and UTA on this FTA-funded research project, demonstrating the amount of project management, communication, and planning required of students and Zhu.

The project and its real-world application is just one of the many ways CvEEN students get unique, hands-on experience in the fields the college prepares them to enter.

Professor Zhu demonstrates system

Department Researchers Gain National Recognition

Three Department of Civil and Environmental Engineer researchers recently received the ASCE Construction Institute’s 2023 Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize for the paper “Automated Framework to Translate Rebar Spatial Information from GPR into BIM,” which was originally published in Journal of Construction Engineering and Management in October 2021. A formal award ceremony will be held later this year.

The researchers included:

  • Dr. Zhongming Xiang, who earned his PhD from the department in 2021;
  • Abbas Rashidi, Assistant Professor of Construction Engineering;
  • and Professor Gaby Ou, former Assistant Professor for the department.

Their research integrated image processing, machine learning, and BIM development algorithms to automate the process of translating spatial information of embedded rebar scanned by Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) scanners into BIM models. The automated framework can significantly improve the current state-of-practice for as-built modeling of buildings containing both surface and embedded elements.

The project highlights how CvEEN graduate students get to work on ground-breaking research along with their professors while gaining national recognition.

Dr. Xiang, after earning his PhD from our very own department at the U, is currently working at Stantec Consulting as a Senior Transmission Line Engineer.

Read the researchers’ full publication, or browse CvEEN’s various research opportunities.


Dr. Shahrzad Roshankhah Takes Research on the Road

College of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Takes Research Findings to 2 Illinois Campuses

Assistant Professor, Dr. Shahrzad Roshankhah, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, recently shared her geo-energy research at both Northwestern University and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Roshankhah presented her research at Northwestern’s and UIUC’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering on March 8 and10, respectively.

Titled “Tailoring the Fracture Network Evolution and Response of Civil, Energy, and Environmental Geosystems,” Roshankhah’s back-to-back seminar presentations focused on geomaterials’ multi-scale behavior under coupled hydraulic and mechanical excitations.

“I am interested in understanding the coupled physical processes responsible for the overall response of geosystems founded in structured rock masses,” said Roshankhah.

Her presentations highlighted a series of laboratory experiments designed to understand the behavior of hydraulic fractures in a rock mass while interacting with the rock’s pre-existing natural fractures, fluid, and boundary conditions using state-of-the-art imaging techniques and numerical simulations.

Dr. Roshankhah has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah since August 2021. Before joining the U, she was a research scientist at Caltech and a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach. Shahrzad has over six years of industry experience in civil and technical engineering and is a holder of a Professional Engineering License from the State of Utah. She received her PhD degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.