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K-State Today

May 3, 2011

Stress relief: Civil engineering professor recognized for research on making bridges stronger

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

A new bridge's first days are make or break.

Different sources of stress can often make the bridge deck or surface susceptible to cracking. These cracks can allow deicer salts into the concrete and start the process of corrosion, ultimately limiting the life of a bridge deck.

But new research by a team with a Kansas State University civil engineering professor has found ways to limit sources of stress. The team's efforts were recently recognized with an award by a technical society.

The team received the Wason Medal for Materials Research from the American Concrete Institute. The award is given annually for peer-reviewed original research work or discoveries that are published by the institute. Knowledge of construction materials must be advanced by the findings. The team's findings were published in the American Concrete Institute's Materials Journal for September-October 2009. Kyle Riding, assistant professor of civil engineering at K-State, was a member of the team and the lead author of the paper, "Effects of Construction Time and Coarse Aggregate on Bridge Deck Cracking."

A new testing method was developed to compare different materials and placement times of bridge decks for the research. The subsequent findings showed that bridge deck stresses could be significantly reduced. The research was supported by a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to the University of Texas.

"If bridge deck placement is timed correctly it could really reduce in half the stresses that are generated," Riding said. "You can reduce stresses by up to 50 percent by using a different aggregate and placing the concrete at night rather than the day."

Riding is the first K-State professor since 1953 to be recognized with the Wason Medal for Materials Research.

"It's always nice to be recognized by your peers for the work that you do," he said. "That always feels good."

Riding joined K-State in 2008. His research interests include concrete durability and the development of new cementitious binders for concrete. His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Kansas Department of Transportation and more. Riding earned a bachelor's in civil and environmental engineering from Brigham Young University and a master's and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne in 2007-2008.