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CEE Student Honored by FAA as Student of the Year

2/25/2009 8:31:00 AM

Phillip R. Donovan, a Ph.D. candidate in CEE, was honored as the Department of Transportation Air Transportation Centers of Excellence (COE) Outstanding Student of the Year on Feb. 19. Donovan, who is also a licensed Civil Engineer and United States Air Force Officer, is conducting his research through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The award was presented by Barry Scott, FAA Director of Research and Technology Development.  Scott was on campus to present CEE Professor Edwin Herricks with an FAA 2008 Excellence in Aviation Research Award.
Donovan is performing research on the influence of offset wheel loads on the strength and durability of unbound aggregate layers in airport pavements. He has co-authored a number of archival journal articles related to his FAA-sponsored research.  
Donovan’s research is contributing to the FAA project on Analysis of NAPTF Trafficking Dynamic Response Data for Pavement Deformation Behavior by identifying trends in the accumulation of permanent deformation due to aircraft wander. Tests conducted by the FAA have indicated that aircraft wander (offset wheel loads) caused deformation to both decrease and increase depending on the sequence of a wonder pattern. Donovan’s investigation into the phenomenon is leading to an understanding of the pavement layer deterioration and damage mechanisms and the effect of offset wheel loads on unbound aggregate pavement layer deformation.  
The Department of Transportation recognized Donovan for his outstanding scholastic achievements, his service as an Air Force officer, and his contributions as a skilled researcher, engineer and practitioner. He received a $1,000 award from his sponsoring organization and an opportunity to assume a short assignment with the FAA.    
Donovan is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and received his Air Force commission and a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1995. He earned his M.S. from the University of Washington in 1996, and is expected to complete his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering under the direction of his adviser, CEE Professor Erol Tutumluer, in 2009. Donovan has been in charge of pavement and facilities research for the Airbase Technologies Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory. He has also served as a flight commander for base level civil engineering squadrons and as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy.  
The FAA supports research activities in many critical areas related to airport pavements and airport safety. These include: Airport Pavement Design, Evaluation and Testing, Airport Planning and Design, Runway Friction and Winter Traction, Visual Guidance, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF), and Airport Wildlife Hazard Mitigation.
Each year the FAA also honors students and faculty who have made outstanding contributions toward our COE university research initiatives. For further information about the FAA COE Program, contact Patricia Watts, COE Program Director, or see