External Collaborators: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, Louisiana State University, University of Texas San Antonio
UB has recently joined the newly-formed Transportation Infrastructure Precast Innovation Center (TRANS-IPIC), a Tier 1 University Transportation Center, along with four other universities. TRANS-IPIC has been awarded $10 million from the US Department of Transportation over a five-year period, where UB will receive a total of $1.6 million. Pinar Okumus, PhD, an associate professor in UB's Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering, will serve as an associate director for TRANS-IPIC.
One of the TRANS-IPIC researchers' main focuses are the incorporation of new technologies into precast concrete, one of the most widespread materials used in the construction of transportation infrastructure today.
“Precast concrete bridges make up most of the new bridges in the U.S.," says Okumus. "Precast concrete is also common for other infrastructure elements such as tunnels, airports and railroads. They are preferred over alternatives because precast concrete structures can be rapidly built, greatly reducing traffic delays and detours associated with construction [...] because precast concrete is used often, enhancing the quality of the materials, construction methods, and monitoring methods for precast concrete structures will have a big impact on the U.S. infrastructure.”
Okumus, along with other CSEE, ISE, and IBE researchers, will be utilizing their collective material science experience for multiple TRANS-IPIC projects in the near future. According to the research team’s proposal, one of the center’s aims is to advance the additive manufacturing technology for bridge construction around two main pillars: materials and manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is 3D printing an object from a computer-aided design or 3D model. Chi Zhou, associate professor in UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, will lead the development and analysis of a printable multifunctional material, and the effort to convert the multifunctional material into scaled 3D bridge elements with the desired geometry and functional integrity.
The University Transportation Center program is focused on advancing transportation research and technology, and developing the next generation of transportation professionals.