Athens, OH dd Month 2012 – The years at OU have come and gone so fast, and it’s hard to believe I’m already a senior. Though I am just beginning my fourth year, I actually have 1.5 years left until I can graduate. Nevertheless, last spring I knew the summer ahead was the optimal summer to get a feel for what graduate school may feel like because it’s a lot different than the undergraduate years. I am still a little torn between wanting to be done with school and going straight on to grad school and getting it over with in a very short year and a half. So, for the summer of 2012, I got into one of the many research projects professors offer to students and worked on an assignment with one of my civil engineering professors.
I had no idea what to expect. The research I worked on was this huge project that Ohio University has to create a catalog for the concrete pavement design in New York. The college bought a software package and has a one-year license to use it freely, so I spent a good amount of my summer learning and working with the DarwinME–Pavement Design program. I became very familiar with New York and the LTPP sites of the whole New England Region, along with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The program takes into consideration traffic, climate, and pavement design to predict the IRI value and the percentage of cracking and faulting the concrete should have at certain years in its design life. All the information of the outputs from each run has to be compared. The summer was not long enough to get to that point.
I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of conducting research, but I can see that it is important that research is done. As engineers, we cannot improve standards and design unless we are researching and testing theories. As a student, research was a way for me to learn more about pavement design.