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Washington State University National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability & Life-Extension (TriDurLE)

Webinar: Modeling collapsible soil and its impact on axially loaded piles

Speaker:  Mohamad Ashour, Ph.D., Alabama A&M University
Associate Professor and Coordinator of Civil Engineering program
Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering

Title: Modeling collapsible soil and its impact on axially loaded piles

Time: January 26, 12:00 PM Pacific Time

view the recording of this webinar


Forterra Resilience & Sustainability Webinar


Sustainability is key to building a brighter future for our families and our communities. What we do today affects tomorrow. This presentation covers the three pillars of sustainability, and provides principles of resilience to support our efforts to build a sustainable infrastructure. In terms of environmental sustainability, this means being conscious of our world and the environment we live in. For economic sustainability it means looking beyond this year’s budget and evaluating true cost of ownership. For societal sustainability, it means limiting delays and improving social convenience while keeping user safety a top priority. Lastly, an integral part of sustainability is ensuring that our infrastructure is resilient enough to resist and defend our communities from present and future threats. Coming from the drainage world, the presenter will offer comparisons and case studies based on storm drainage products on the market today. This presentation is based on researched performed by a task group composed of member companies of the American Concrete Pipe Association, of which Joseph Updike co-led.

About the Speaker

Joseph Updike (EIT) is a Technical Resource Engineer with Forterra, the largest precast concrete pipe manufacturer in North America. Joseph specializes in providing lunch and learns, resources, and support for DOTs, municipalities, and consultants. Additionally, this role includes speaking at universities to allow up and coming engineers a glimpse of the drainage industry, and how critical it is to our infrastructure. In his short career, Joseph has served as a co-chair for an ACPA task group on Resilience & Sustainability, and has spoken at ACPA’s Pipe School in 2020. He has served on multiple ASCE committees including the Infrastructure Resilience Division, Committee for Cold-Regions Engineering, and is currently the vice president of the Black Hills ASCE Chapter. Joseph is a December 2019 graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology where he earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering. Outside of work, Joseph dedicates time to his wife, family, and church community in the Blacks Hills of South Dakota, but has also found time to explore his interests in novel and poetry writing. In 2020, Joseph won first prize in a national poetry contest, and looks forward to many other opportunities. Looking to the future, Joseph hopes to earn his PE license in Structural Engineering, and continue exploring ways to improve the world around him through engineering.

Recycling Industrial Byproduct to Create Environmentally Friendly Concrete

Civil & environmental engineering doctoral student Zhipeng Li is conducting critical research on the novel use of fly ash in concrete, funded by the University Transportation Center TriDurLE (Transportation Infrastructure Durability and Life Extension). His journey since arriving at WSU—in spite of personal challenges—is a true testament of the academic fortitude of a young scientist.

Zhipeng grew up in China and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2014 from Wuhan University of Science & Technology and a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering in 2017 from Wuhan Polytechnic University. Zhipeng came to the U.S. in 2019 to earn his doctoral degree in civil engineering from Washington State University, where he works in Xianming Shi’s lab studying geopolymers.

“I work with geopolymer composites that are modified by trace amounts of graphene oxide,” says Zhipeng. “In particular, I am researching the use of fly ash-based geopolymer composites, which are more sustainable and greener and have great potential to replace the conventional Portland cement.”

Fly ash is an industrial solid waste and environmental pollutant released by factories and thermal power plants as a by-product of power generation. The disposal of fly ash has become a serious environmental hazard, thus the utilization of the waste material for new products is an economical and environmentally friendly solution. Considerable research has been undertaken on its potential use.

The use of fly ash to fully replace cement in mortar and concrete could result in lower water demand due to the spherical shape of fly ash and could also greatly increase strength and durability due to reduced porosity. Ongoing research on the use of fly ash is exploring its durability under variable weather conditions and the addition of nanomaterials to enhance durability. Zhipeng is currently working on a project for TriDurLE titled “Design of Fly Ash Based Geopolymer Concrete-filled FRP Tube Composite for Highly Durable and Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure.”

Zhipeng is also an avid technical writer, publishing as author or co-author eight journal articles with an additional article currently under review. In addition, he is the recipient of several awards including the 2021 Outstanding Research Assistant Award from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; the 2020 Distinguished Reviewer Award from the Journal of Infrastructure Preservation and Resilience; the 2020 Waheed Uddin Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 2nd Place, from the National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability & Life-Extension; the 2020 David C. Gross Scholarship, American Coal Ash Association Educational Foundation (ACAAEF); and the 2019 and 2020 Smart & Green Infrastructure Research Scholarship.

While accomplishing so much, Zhipeng has faced challenges at WSU that are shared by many international students. “The main difficulty for me and many international students is that you miss your family,” says Zhipeng. “The cultural differences are hard. Also, I studied English in China for 10 years, but the language is different when you get here.” These problems were enhanced over the past months with travel restrictions, quarantines, and isolation due to COVID.

Zhipeng anticipates his future as an engineer, hoping to defend his dissertation and graduate in 2022 and continue his research thereafter. Watch for his defense in the coming months on fly ash-based geopolymer for concrete infrastructure: development, characterization, application, and lifecycle assessment.


Li,Z., Shi, X. Effects of Nanomaterials on Engineering Performance of a Potassium Methyl  Siliconate-Based Sealer for Cementitious Composite. ASCE Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 2021, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)MT.1943-5533.0004148.

Li, Z., Xu, G., Shi, X. Reactivity of Coal Fly Ash Used in Cementitious Binder Systems: A State-of-the-Art Overview. Fuel, 2021, 301.

Li, Z., Fei, M., Huyan, C., Shi, X. Nano-Engineered, Fly Ash-Based Geopolymer Composites: An Overview. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 2021, 168, 105334.

※ Lei, Z., Li, Z., Zhang, X., Shi, X. Durability of CFRP-Wrapped Concrete in Cold Regions: A Laboratory Evaluation of Montmorillonite Nanoclay-Modified Siloxane Epoxy Adhesive. Construction and Building Materials, 2021, 290. (co-first author)

※ Tang, Z., Li, Z., Fan, L., Gong, J., Zhong, J., Shi, X. Effect of Surface Tension, Foaming Stabilizer, and Graphene Oxide on the Properties of Foamed Paste. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 2021, 21(5), 3123–3133. (co-first author)

Li, Z., Shi, X. Graphene Oxide Modified, Clinker-Free Cementitious Paste with Principally Alkali-Activated Fly Ash. Fuel, 2020, 269,.

※ Gong, J., Li, Z., Zhang, R., Li, J., Shi, X. Synergistic Effects of Nano-montmorillonite and Polyethylene Microfiber in Foamed Paste with High Volume Fly Ash Binder. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 2019, 19(8), 4465-4473. (co-first author)

Li, Z., Gong, J., Du, S., Wu, J., Li, J., Hoffman, D., & Shi, X. (2017). Nano-montmorillonite modified foamed paste with a high volume fly ash binder. RSC advances7(16), 9803-9812.

Gong, J., Yu, L., Li, Z., Shi, X. Mechanical Activation Improves Reactivity and Reduced Leaching of MSWI Bottom Ash in a Cement Hydration System. Transportation Research Record, 2021. Under review (Corresponding author).



Webinar: Evaluating Sidewalk Infrastructure & Prioritizing Investment

Webinar Title



Wes Marshall with Nick Coppola, University of Colorado Denver

Webinar Abstract

This project leverages advances in technology and increasing access to high-resolution remote sensing and spatial data to develop methods for inventorying sidewalk characteristics and static obstructions across an entire major city. In part 1 of this effort, we analyze city-scale sidewalk availability, width, and land coverage calculated from spatial data from aerial imagery (planimetrics). We then determine how much of a difference accounting for static obstructions makes when measuring the clear width of sidewalks in one city. Part 2 then combines planimetric sidewalk data with vehicle and pedestrian trip big data to develop a methodology to prioritize city areas in need of pedestrian infrastructure attention.

The results show an overall deficiency of sidewalks and indicate that deriving sidewalk availability, average width, and minimum clear width are feasible at the city scale. Moreover, the results suggest a significant decrease in the average clear width of sidewalks when accounting for static obstructions. Not accounting for static obstructions could lead to a gross overestimation of seemingly adequate sidewalks and an unrealistic assessment of sidewalk infrastructure and pedestrian accessibility. We then present a feasible and efficient method to prioritize pedestrian infrastructure in a city.

Primarily due to a lack of data, academic literature has scant research on sidewalks. In this project, we leveraged advances in remote sensing to bridge the data and research gap on pedestrian infrastructure in cities. These results will help cities that are lacking information rectify an unprecedented backlog of deteriorating pedestrian infrastructure.

About the Speaker

Wes Marshall is a Professor of Civil Engineering and affiliate faculty in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, director of the CU Denver Transportation Research Center, and co-director of the Active Communities/Transportation (ACT) research group. He is a Professional Engineer and focuses on transportation teaching and research dedicated to creating a more sustainable and resilient built environment, particularly in terms of road safety, active transportation, and transit. Other related teaching and research topics include street networks, parking, health, travel behavior, and scofflaw bicycling.  His recent book, Elements of Access, provides planners with the fundamentals of transportation engineering and engineers with the fundamentals of transportation planning. Having spent time in the private sector with Sasaki Associates and Clough, Harbour and Associates, Wes has been working on all this for the last two decades. A native of  Massachusetts, he is a graduate of the University of Virginia, the University of Connecticut, a recipient of the Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship, the Endeavour Fellowship, winner of the Wootan Award for Outstanding TRB Paper in the field of Policy and Organization, and winner of the Campus-wide University of Colorado Denver Outstanding Faculty in Research Award.