The Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology recently added a new asphalt research lab, Georgia Southern University announced Tuesday.
The new lab will provide research services to a variety of state and private entities, including the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Initially, the lab will be used to conduct scientific research for GDOT, but university officials say additional opportunities exist to support the Federal Highway Administration, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The lab is also capable of providing services to regional industry and certification training for technicians.
The lab also will serve as a training tool, providing application-based learning and research opportunities for engineering students.
“We are excited to establish the state’s first lab dedicated to asphalt research,” said Mohammad Davoud, the dean of the engineering college. “There has been a great amount of interest by the public and private sector to establish such a lab at a state university in Georgia. We are fortunate to have researchers on staff with a tremendous amount of experience in asphalt and construction materials. This new lab will help us expand our research and collaborate with other researchers throughout the country.”
The new lab features “super pavement” asphalt mixture design equipment — Strategic Highway Research Program asphalt binder grade equipment, an asphalt mixture performance tester and weathering equipment.
“The lab’s diverse capability to conduct research, provide educational opportunities and certification is just one part of the equation,” said Junan Shen, an associate professor of civil engineering and director of the new lab. “My students and I will now be able to conduct research on new, improved asphalt mixtures and pavement-related research.”
Davoud added: “We are making a significant investment to conduct research and development that will ultimately save taxpayers money and benefit the environment. This is just one example of how Georgia Southern is combining the expertise of its faculty to conduct research to support our state and a growing industry. We are looking forward to seeing the lab continue to grow. It’s a great addition to our civil engineering degree program and will provide hands-on research opportunities for our students – something employers continue to tell us they need.”
Most recently, Shen was selected by GDOT to conduct the second phase of a project to investigate the performance of rubberized asphalt mix for use in road construction in Georgia. The nearly $300,000 research project will examine how “green” material derived from scrap tires will make a viable alternative for use in road construction.
“The majority of highways in Georgia and around the country are paved with asphalt materials,” Shen said. “There is increasing interest in asphalt research so that the government can build a reliable, economical and sustainable infrastructure.”