Grad students receive $10,000 stipends for research on airport pavements
Transportation Engineering doctoral candidate Priyanka Sarker has recently been awarded a $10,000 research stipend from the Graduate Research Award Program on Public Sector Aviation Issues for the 2016-2017 academic year. Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Authority and administered by Airport Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, this highly competitive graduate research grant is awarded nationally to only up to ten outstanding graduate research proposals with high impact potentials in aviation community. Sarker won this award for her research proposal titled "Airfield Pavement Damage Evaluation Due to New-Generation Aircraft Wheel Loading and Wander Patterns." She is working on this topic under the supervision of her Ph.D. advisor Erol Tutumluer, Professor and Director of International Programs in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“This project is focused on a national research priority in the area of better understanding our nation’s airfield pavement infrastructure deterioration patterns for an improved engineering approach,” Tutumluer said. “We are analyzing deformation data from the National Airport Pavement Test Facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where realistic full-size aircraft gear/wheel loads were applied on instrumented pavement test sections. What we learn from the data analyses on damage mechanisms, will help us to build stronger, longer lasting and more resilient infrastructure for constructing airport runways and taxiways.”
The proposed research will be a part of Sarker’s work to develop improved methodologies to predict the deformation trends in airfield pavement layers due apparent random travel paths of heavy aircrafts.
"I am truly honored and really excited to receive this award,” Sarker said. “I believe the insights gained from this study will enable us to better understand the damage mechanisms in the airport pavements which will ultimately result in helping the designers plan an effective maintenance and rehabilitation strategy, subsequently leading to an economic and sustainable airport pavement management system. From a personal perspective, this grant will definitely boost my enthusiasm in my ongoing airfield pavement research and will be instrumental for the successful completion of my Ph.D. work.”
Prior to coming to Illinois for her Ph.D., Sarker received a master’s degree from University of Akron in 2012 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2009, both in Civil Engineering.
A second graduate student, Erman Gungor, was also a recipient of a stipend from the Graduate Research Award Program. Gungor’s main research involves pavement modelling using Finite Element (FE) methods. Specifically, he is focusing on developing adjustment factors for the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) based on FE models where loading conditions and material properties can be simulated more realistically. Gungor is conducting his research under the supervision of Professor Imad Al-Qadi.