Civil Engineering Professor Elie Hajj has entered into a five-year cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for $5 million. This is the second time the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Pavement Engineering and Science (PES) program has won this highly competitive agreement.
“Once more, we succeeded by leading a strong and highly qualified team, backed by our proven track record,” Hajj said.
The cooperative agreement, which kicked off Oct. 20, entails a commitment to the development and deployment of innovative asphalt pavement technologies. The funding from the FHWA underscores the importance of the project’s deployment of technologies relating to the design, production, testing, control, construction and investigation of asphalt pavements.
The cooperative agreement will enhance technology transfer and communication between universities, state and federal agencies as well as produce educational content. This encompasses marketing and implementation strategies, which are vital to ensure that the innovative solutions and practices are effectively and rapidly adopted by state highway agencies.
The agreement involves writing technical reports, hosting webinars or peer exchanges and producing educational videos that have included graduate students from the University of Nevada, Reno’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department. These efforts provide state highway agencies with cost-effective solutions to their pavement-related challenges, supporting agencies in their implementation process and helping them find practical solutions to their challenges.
“Congratulations to Dr. Hajj and his team in securing this agreement for a second time,” Engineering Dean Erick Jones said. “The PES team has had a remarkable impact on asphalt technology, and will continue to do so. The College of Engineering is proud of their efforts and of the educational opportunities they provide to our students.”
The FHWA agreement with PES also aligns with one of the College’s research pillars, equitable infrastructure to mitigate cascading local, regional and global hazards.
Continuing a successful agreement with FHWA
The team had to consistently improve its approach and proposal, adapting to the changing goals of the FHWA. The dedication of the team during the previous cooperative agreement led to 18 workshops with approximately 700 attendees and frequent webinars that had over 3,700 people registered. An extensive list of the products delivered by the University can be found on the FHWA Cooperative Agreement Materials website.
The team now is developing Statements of Work (SOWs) in several of the FHWA innovation’s areas. These SOWs are essential components of the project, outlining the specific tasks, goals and deliverables for the deployment of various asphalt technologies. The FHWA reviews and prioritizes these SOWs, ensuring alignment with their national strategic directions and the cooperative agreement goals.
This cooperative agreement is important not only for the technological advancements it will facilitate but also the exposure it will provide for the University on a national and international landscape.
“The engagement, visibility and knowledge we gain are truly invaluable underscoring the capabilities and capacities of the Pavement Engineering and Science Program at UNR,” Hajj said.
Students in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department also receive a leg-up on their peers. They gain real-world exposure to cutting-edge research and practices, enhancing their educational experience. The program's extensive collection of data and research serves as a valuable resource for students, providing them with the latest insights into asphalt pavement technologies.
From a ranking perspective, the cooperative agreement boosts the University’s and department's standing, showing the innovation of which they are capable. The cooperative agreement positively impacts small communities such as the Reno-Tahoe area as well. Transportation commissions such as RTC can pull from studies and documents generated through the agreement if they are interested in innovative technologies, such as recycled pavements, without footing a big bill for the research.
About the Pavement Engineering and Science team
The University’s PES program is a nationally and internationally recognized teaching, research and training program in the Department of Civil & Environmental engineering. The team comprises subject matter experts from the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT), Asphalt Institute (AI), Paragon Technical Services, Inc. (PTSi), Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) and Asphalt Testing Solutions & Engineering, LLC (ATS). The team has extensive technical experience in project innovation areas, coupled with extensive marketing and implementation experience.