Al-Qadi honored with ASCE Robert Horonjeff Award

1/19/2022 11:30:33 AM

Imad Al-QadiBy McCall Macomber, Illinois Center for Transportation

Imad Al-Qadi, Bliss Professor of Engineering and Illinois Center for Transportation director, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Robert Horonjeff Award. 

The prestigious award recognizes a person or organization for outstanding achievements in and contributions to the field of air transportation engineering.

Al-Qadi’s achievements in air transportation engineering span from advising projects at major international airports in the U.S. and abroad to conducting ground-breaking research.

His key advisory work includes forensic engineering of major international airports in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

His advisory work involves investigating runway and taxiway failures, developing rehabilitation strategies and analyzing sensor data, to developing and applying an approach using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) — a real-time, nondestructive test that sends electromagnetic waves into airport surfaces — to locate drainage systems and existing problem areas in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The research and contributions of Al-Qadi and his students to air transportation engineering include pavement model development, movement of an airplane’s tire and gear loads, instrumentation (or sensor) installation, data analysis, and environmental impact.

Imad Al-Qadi at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, where he conducted advisory work. 
Imad Al-Qadi at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, where he conducted advisory work. 

He led the design, installation and analysis of the first instrumented European airport in Italy, and he and his students analyzed data collected from instrumentation at New York City’s JFK International Airport. They are currently focusing on instrumentation data from other international airports and accelerated loading facilities.

Key to Al-Qadi’s contributions to the field are his efforts, in close collaboration with his students, on several active and completed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) projects.

Those projects span topics such as developing advanced modeling of airfield structures, pioneering GPR analysis to predict the thicknesses and densities of flexible pavement layers, analyzing FAA sensor responses to the environment and accelerated pavement testing, utilizing machine learning to develop databases to predict airfield performance, quantifying environmental impact through the development of life cycle assessment, incorporating plastics in pavements, among others.

He was awarded an FAA project in September 2021 on developing and adopting cracking tests for balanced mix design in airfield pavements. The endeavor is sponsored by the National Asphalt Pavement Association and is a collaboration between UIUC, Arizona State University (ASU), Applied Research Associates and the University of New Hampshire.

Al-Qadi is currently working to develop theoretical and experimental models for reflective cracking, in which cracks from bottom pavement layers spread to a pavement’s surface, in an FAA project led by his former student Hasan Ozer of ASU.

Imad Al-Qadi with University of Cagliari students and researchers at an airport in Italy. They are installing the first instrumentation — sensors used to monitor pavement response to moving airplanes and the environment — at a European airport. The shown deflection system was designed by Al-Qadi.
Imad Al-Qadi with University of Cagliari students and researchers at an airport in Italy. They are installing the first instrumentation — sensors used to monitor pavement response to moving airplanes and the environment — at a European airport. The shown deflection system was designed by Al-Qadi.

Al-Qadi credits his success to his hard-working students and research partners, who have won several airport competitions and ACRP awards throughout the years.

Their efforts have helped break ground in building sustainable airfields, such as assessing the life cycle and environmental impact of airfields, applying plastics in asphalt-concrete mixes, introducing GPR to predict the density of wet pavement, among many others.

“I am pleased that UIUC’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has had a significant impact in this field over the past several decades and our former and current students are continuing this tradition by helping to build and maintain safe, resilient and sustainable airfields,” Al-Qadi said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments,” he added. “I am accepting this honor on their behalf.”

Al-Qadi, a Distinguished Member of ASCE and former president of ASCE T&DI, is an active member of ASCE’s Airfield Committee.

He established and chaired the first ASCE T&DI Congress in 2011 as well as chaired and co-chaired several ASCE T&DI International Airfield and Highway Pavement Conferences in the past decade.

Al-Qadi is the 18th recipient of the Robert Horonjeff Award since its inception 34 years ago.