Study by Kim, Marshall and Pal says 2013 floods could have been less destructive

The severe flooding that devastated a wide swath of Colorado last year might have been less destructive if the bridges, roads and other infrastructure had been upgraded or modernized, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver.

“People need to understand the importance and seriousness of infrastructure,” said Jimmy Kim, associate professor of civil engineering and lead author the study. “There is an assumption that a bridge will stand forever and that’s simply not true.”

Kim along with co-authors Wesley Marshall, and Indrani Pal, both assistant professors of civil engineering, examined the causes of the flooding and its impact on infrastructure.

The stage was set for the deluge when an unusual low pressure system generated a steady plume of monsoonal moisture flow from the Pacific Ocean toward Colorado’s Front Range communities.

The rain began on Sept. 9, 2013 and didn’t stop until the 16th. In just days, places like Boulder County received three-quarters of its yearly precipitation, the study said. Bridges collapsed, roads failed and homes were swept away.

According to the study, 120 bridges now need structural repair. Many were damaged by rushing water which washed out backfill soil and exposed bridge foundations.

Kim said new `scour control’ methods, aimed at reducing these washouts, should be developed to help bridges withstand future flooding.

“You can do that by upgrading existing piers (columns) supporting the bridge or changing current design approaches” he said. “The Colorado Department of Transportation is currently working on improving scour design for bridge structures.”

The researchers also suggested improving roads made of concrete or bituminous material like asphalt since they often disintegrate when flooded. Kim said fiber, nano-particles or polymeric admixtures could be added to these construction materials to increase tensile strength and flexibility while reducing cracking.

The study noted the successful use of geographic information systems (GIS) to help supply up-to-the-minute mapping and alerts about flood damage.

“The production of such data and maps extended well beyond the typical GIS community and included local news affiliates and even the City of Boulder itself,” said study co-author Wesley Marshall.

For example, on September 27, 2013, Boulder launched a `Community Flood Assessment’ crowd-sourced map using the Crowdmap application. The city asked users to submit flood reports via the website or smartphone apps. They were also asked how deep the flooding was and if they lost power. Video and photos could be uploaded to locate the event on an interactive map.

“Such efforts were not only useful during the recovery efforts but will continue to be used toward helping increase the resiliency of Colorado during such events,” Marshall said.

Overall, the researchers revealed a much wider problem.

From 1980 to 2007, about 90 percent of all global disasters were caused by flooding either by rain, tsunami, hurricane or some other natural event.

At the same time, the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the country a dismal D+. The group said $3.6 trillion was needed by 2020 to address the most serious problems.

In Colorado, the report card says, 70 percent of major roads are poor or mediocre and 566 bridges are structurally deficient.

“Reconstruction is very expensive and should be the last resort,” Kim said. “But we can repair or strengthen existing systems less expensively. We are looking at a growing national problem, one that will only get worse if we ignore it.”

The study was published last week in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

This research was also featured on Channel 7 News and Colorado Public Radio.

Marshall’s study examines bias in roadway design; featured on 9News

Wesley Marshall, Assistant Professor Civil Engineering

Wesley Marshall, Assistant Professor
Civil Engineering

According to a new study co-authored by Wesley Marshall, assistant professor of civil engineering, America’s streets are designed and evaluated with a an inherent bias toward the needs of motor vehicles, ignoring those of bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transit users. His study was featured in CU Today and on 9News and published in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal.

“The most common way to measure transportation performance is with the level-of-service standard,” said Marshall. “But that measure only tells us about the convenience of driving a car.”

Read the entire story here.
Watch the clip from 9News.

Shandas among three to share patent for new smart material

The CU Technology Transfer Office is pleased to announce that researchers from CU’s Boulder, Anschutz and Denver campuses have been awarded a patent for improved shape memory polymers, a ‘smart material’ used in many next-generation implantable medical devices. The inventors on the patent are Christopher Bowman (CU-Boulder, ChBE), Robin Shandas (CU Denver, Bioengineering; CU Anschutz, Pediatrics; Children’s Hospital), Devatha Nair (CU Anschutz, Ophthalmology; former ChBE postdoc) and former ChBE research associate Neil Cramer.

U.S. 8,846,777, “Thiol-vinyl and thiol-yne systems for shape memory polymers,” was issued on September 30, 2014, and is part of a large portfolio of related patents prosecuted by TTO on behalf of CU.

Join us in congratulating these researchers on their achievement.

CEM class makes a site visit

IMG_0859On September 17, 2014, 17 students enrolled in Construction Materials and Methods, along with several faculty and graduate students from the Construction Engineering and Management program, made a site visit to the Cherry Creek Bridge Deck Replacement Project.  The project, at the corner of Cherry Creek and University, is slated for completion before Thanksgiving and is under the supervision of Kevin Rens, chair of civil engineering and director of construction engineering and management. Student observed many site conditions including the partial completion of two lanes of traffic, the debris catchment system, and epoxied rebar primed for the upcoming closure pour.

Read the CU Denver story about this new program.

Bodine receives Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Grant

Cathy BodineCathy Bodine, associate professor in bioengineering and executive director of Assistive Technology Partners, has received a five-year, $4.75 million Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Grant.

The grant will support three research projects centered on technologies to enhance independence in daily living for adults with cognitive impairment in the research domain of employment. The abstract for the award is below.

Congratulations to Cathy and your team!

Computer Science and Engineering Students Benefit from Intel® Software Academic Program

A recent document from Intel describes the features of its collaboration with the department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of Colorado Denver.  The Intel® Software Academic Program supports parallelization studies with the help of Professor and Chair Dr. Gita Alaghband.

Access to these sophisticated tools are integral to successful careers for students and new discoveries for researchers in the field.

Read the full story

Jason Lewis talks credit security with 9News

Jason Lewis, Senior Instructor Computer Science and Engineering

Jason Lewis, Senior Instructor Computer Science and Engineering

Jason Lewis, senior instructor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, spoke with 9News about the security of using credit and debit cards amid the recent security breaches at major retail outlets.

See the report here:

Nikki Farnsworth receives F32 Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award

Farnsworth_pic Nikki Farnsworth, a postdoctoral fellow mentored by Richard Benninger in the Department of Bioengineering, has been awarded a 3-year F32 fellowship from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) totaling $165,354. Nikki will study the dysregulation of pancreatic islet electrical activity during conditions associated with the progression of type1 diabetes, and ways to control this regulation to protect against beta cell decline.

Daewon Park receives 2nd NIH R21 Grant

Daewon Park, Assistant Professor in BioengineeringDaewon Park, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, received an NIH R21 grant in the amount of $409,255 from the National Eye Institute.

With this grant, Park will develop an extracellular matrix-mimicking polymeric injectable system for the regeneration of injured retinal ganglion cell axons. This next generation biomaterial will have the ability to readily access the optic nerves, which sit in an anatomically challenging location, will harmonize with the host neuro-retinal environment to minimize introduction of counter-productive host reactions such as inflammatory responses, and will create a growth-permissive environment that encourages organized neuronal regeneration.


3+1+1 program expands with two additional Chinese universities

MOU signing ceremony at Dalian Jiaotong University: Vice President Ma Yundong (5th from left), Director John Sunnygard, CEAS Assistant Dean Chengyu Li and International Operation Manger Manager Joanne Wambeke (6th, 7th and 8th from left) of CU Denver, and Deans of School of Mechanical Engineering, School of Traffic and Transportation Engineering, School of Civil Engineering and Safety, School of Software, School of Electrical and Information Engineering.

In June, the College of Engineering and Applied Science signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Harbin Institute of Technology at Weihai and with Dalian Jiaotong University in China. Both MOUs outlined cooperation in the fields of development of 3+1+1 program, exchange and/or collaborative engagement of faculty, collaborative study abroad or joint-student and/or faculty projects and seminars and conferences, collaboration on scholarly publications, and collaboration in the development of external funding.

Currently 24 students from Northeast Forestry University are in the 3+1+1 program. With the newly signed two MOUs, the college is expecting to receive more students with the program. Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean of International Education Chengyu Li has been integral for the MOUs and participated in the signing ceremonies.

Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) was founded in 1920. It has been ranked in the top 10 universities in China for decades. HIT Weihai, as an indispensable part of HIT, was founded in 1985 in Weihai, a coastal city on the Jiaodong Peninsula in China. HIT Weihai comprises 11 schools and departments, including School of Automobile Engineering, School of Information Science and Engineering, School of Computer Science and Technology, School of Marine Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Material Science and Engineering, and School of Software Engineering. HIT Weihai has more than 100 modern laboratories and engineering technology centers. There are more than 10,000 full-time students. The university is best known for its research in marine engineering, automobile engineering and electronic engineering. Its student HRT racing team has competed in Japan, Germany and many other countries.

Dalian Jiaotong University was founded in 1956 as Dalian Railway Vehicle Manufacturing School and changed to its current name in 2004. The university consists of two campuses in Dalian, a coastal city in eastern China. The engineering colleges include Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Civil Engineering, Software Engineering and Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Automation, Environmental Engineering, and Measurement Control Technology and Instruments. There are about 20,000 full-time students and 1,100 full-time faculties. The university is best known for its strong program in railway and high-speed rail engineering and has developed many technologies that are currently used in high-speed rail system in China.

Department of Civil Engineering CTT Professor Chengyu Li was invited to present seminars at the College of Civil and Architectural Engineering of Heilongjiang Institute of Technology and the Department of Civil Engineering of Harbin Institute of Technology at Weihai, China, in June 2014. The topics he presented are Bridge Accelerated Construction and Special Design Methods in Bridge Engineering.