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CCEE professor, Ph.D. student receive awards from APSE

CCEE associate professor Dr. Shane Underwood and Ph.D. student Saqib Gulzar received the 2022 Outstanding Academic Member Award and Student Member Award, respectively, from the Academy of Pavement Science and Engineering (APSE) at the organization’s annual meeting on April 25.  

The awards are based on criteria such as contributions in teaching or curriculum development, service to the professional community, and research; and active participation and leadership in APSE’s committees, sponsored conferences, and/or programs. 

Saqib Gulzar

Gulzar said he was working in Fitts-Woolard Hall’s asphalt multiscale testing lab when he found out he won the award.

“It felt great to be at a place where I do all my research and knowing that all of it is being recognized internationally,” he said. “I feel even more motivated to pursue research in the field of pavement science and engineering.”  

Gulzar, who is advised by Underwood, is part of CCEE’s pavement research group. He is primarily focused on research to make roadways safer, better performing, and resilient by examining fundamental material behavior, pavement performance and network analysis, and pavement infrastructure performance under extreme events and climate change. 

Gulzar said his motivation for his work in pavement research is his hometown of Kashmir, India, which is located in a valley and only has one road, a national highway, connecting it to the rest of India.

“Whenever it rains or snows heavily, there are multiple landslides or avalanches that damage the road, causing closures that disconnect our valley from the rest of the world,” Gulzar said. “This causes many economic disruptions to the people of my homeland, some that I have witnessed myself firsthand. This somehow made roads central to my life and how having good, safe, long-lasting and resilient roads — or a transportation system in general — is essential for socioeconomic prosperity of any region.” 

Dr. Shane Underwood

Underwood, who has been involved with APSE since its start in 2015, said he felt humbled to receive the recognition.

“It’s nice to get recognized by your peers, especially from APSE,” he said.

Underwood has been a part of a research task force for the group and currently serves as ASPE’s secretary. He said the organization is important because pavement engineering can be an overlooked discipline. 

“We refer to ourselves as pavement engineers, Underwood said. “What that essentially means is someone who knows about the basic physics of layered systems that people drive on and  how we can manage that, construct it effectively, and design it in a robust way. We need to oversee, manage and maintain those systems with time. The skill sets have to do with mechanics, geotechnical engineering, construction engineering and asset management risk. 

But pavement engineering is not really formally recognized. There’s a need to articulate that, because what often happens is that people who get involved in transportation agencies have to learn pavement engineering on the job, and they’re generally civil engineers. They’ve got an understanding of a lot of the same concepts, but not a formal way of linking all of those pieces together and getting a holistic view. At APSE, we facilitate activities around those three basic areas: education, research, and outreach and in the betterment of the industry as a whole.”

Underwood’s expertise is in the field of pavements and materials, and his current research focuses on the use of bottom-up, constitutive model based investigations of asphalt concrete and its constituent materials and the use of top-down systems studies to identify needs and knowledge gaps that the bottom-up investigations can inform. He has been involved in several industry groups including the American Society of Civil Engineers, Transportation Research Board, and Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists.