Research

Vision: The civil infrastructure systems, including buildings, bridges, highways, harbors, dams, and aviation, that play a central role in the economic, social, and political health of modern society. The design and construction of these facilities is one of the most important challenges that civil engineers face, both today and in the future. We embrace this opportunity and endeavor to view the industry in a holistic and interdisciplinary manner.

Mission: The mission of PDMLab is to conduct innovative and rigorous research that explores design-construction interface within all facets of civil engineering to mitigate risk and uncertainty; to improve planning and decision-making process; to successfully deliver sustainable and resilient civil infrastructure projects at a manageable cost; and to enhance interaction between built and natural environment and quality of life.

Research Projects

1. Risk-based Project Delivery Selection: Selecting an appropriate delivery method is a critical to the success of highways and other infrastructure projects. The selection is often made early in the project development process. At the time of the decision, the owner and stakeholders often have little information and projects lack details to make accurate judgments about final project costs. Transportation agencies have successfully applied cost and schedule risk analyses on their major projects, but they make project delivery decisions independently from these risk analyses. This project capitalizes on the opportunity to apply quantitative risk analysis techniques to optimize the highway project delivery selection process.

 

2. Project Delivery Selection Matrix: Selecting an appropriate project delivery method can have a significant impact on the achievement of project goals and objectives. The transportation industry has been searching for optimal delivery methods to maximize project performance. Currently, three fundamental delivery methods exist in the transportation sector: design-bid-build (DBB), design-build (DB), and construction manager/general contractor (CMGC).

The project delivery selection matrix (PDSM) promotes a better understanding of project goals, risks, opportunities, and enhances alignment among project participants. This PDSM tool has been successfully used in Colorado and several state Departments of Transportation.

3. Construction Management Practices for Rural Transit Projects: Rural transit projects are often small in scope, but numerous and geographically dispersed. Management of rural transit projects can be challenging because of very limited resources, unique risk factors, and a lack of construction management expertise. Though many technical and managerial references available for large urban construction projects exist, there is limited research focusing on the management of small, rural transit construction projects. Without effective construction management strategies, it is likely that rural transit projects will experience cost overruns, rework, injuries, and may result in a lower quality end product. The objective of this research is to develop a Guidebook that describes effective strategies for planning and managing rural construction projects. In addition to best practices, the Guidebook provides examples of templates, tools, and checklist that are appropriate for administrating rural construction projects.

4. Bayesian Networks in Risk and Decision Analysis: Bayesian networks are widely considered as powerful tools for modeling risk assessment, uncertainty, and decision making. They have been extensively employed to develop decision support systems in variety of domains including medical diagnosis, risk assessment and management, human cognition, industrial process and procurement, pavement and bridge management, and system reliability. Bayesian networks are convenient graphical expressions for high dimensional probability distributions which are used to represent complex relationships between a large numbers of random variables. The ability to recover Bayesian network structures from data is critical to enhance their application in modeling real-world phenomena. The objective of this project is to explore a structure of the minimum description length developed and then provides an alternative efficient search strategy to recover Bayesian network structures.

5. Bracing Requirements for Steel Frames: A brace must be designed to fulfill two main requirements: (1) it must have sufficient stiffness to adequately strengthen the braced members; and (2) it must have sufficient strength itself (Winter, 1958). Reduced bracing stiffness allows greater deformations in the physical imperfect structure; this in turn causes larger forces in the bracing system. If the bracing stiffness is too small, the required bracing forces can be excessive. The ultimate goal of this research is to establish a much clearer understanding of the actual demands on flange braces in metal building systems.