By Peter Murphy
Published February 28, 2023
UB’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering held its annual poster competition in-person for the first time since 2020. Graduate students from three different disciplines finished inside the top three.
Seven student-participants from each of the different research disciplines within the department, environmental and water resources engineering, geosystems engineering, structural engineering mechanics and materials, and transportation engineering, put their research on display and discussed it with fellow students, faculty and staff. Faculty judges and other competition attendees graded each presenter based on the poster’s organization, content and the presenter’s enthusiasm and ability to clearly explain their research. Three of the participants were awarded for their posters.
Jiajun Pang, a PhD student in transportation and systems engineering, won the competition with the poster highlighting his research intelligent winter information system (IWRIS).
“IWRIS will process data collected from multiple resources like weather stations and traffic cameras and provide supportive information to both road users and maintenance teams. Both the road users and maintenance team can interact with each other with the IWRIS as the intermedia,” Pang says.
According to Pang, the IWRIS is expected to help road users make rational travel decisions, forecast and alert hazards and recommend better routes. For the road maintenance teams, IWRIS is expected to generate dynamic snow plowing and de-icing schedule adaptive to real-time road and traffic conditions.
Pang is advised by assistant professor Irina Benedyk, who generally proposed the IWRIS, and co-advised by associate professor Panagiotis Ch. Anastasopoulos.
Rodrigo Castillo, a PhD student studying structural engineering earned second place. His research focuses on using machine learning to gain critical information on beams.
“My research uses machine learning techniques to quickly predict shear failure indicators for reinforced concrete beams,” Castillo says. “The final outcome is an app that helps us identify which structural elements need immediate retrofits as a function of the shear condition of in-service structures, so the state resources can be assigned efficiently.”
Kareem Eltouny, a PhD candidate in civil engineering advised by assistant professor Xiao Liang, won third place in the competition. His poster highlighted award-winning work, also incorporating machine learning, by he and the rest of the research group.
“This study won the 2021 International Competition for Structural Health Monitoring,” Eltouny says. “Our group developed computer-vision machine learning models that can efficiently identify and isolate different structures’ components and damage types including cracks, exposed rebar and spalling using high-resolution UAV survey images. The proposed framework is an important step towards autonomous visual structural inspections to quickly assess the damage of earthquakes in large urban areas.”
The 2023 competition brought back a key element of life in the Department according to some of the competition participants. While the competition did not disappear during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was adjusted significantly. Having the competition in-person again was a welcome return to normal, according to Eltouny.
“The CSEE Poster Competition is an excellent opportunity to get an insight into the research performed by the graduate students in our department, supervised by our supportive faculty,” he says. “This was the first in-person CSEE poster competition since the COVID19 pandemic and it was a pleasure to be part of this experience.”
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