After recently receiving the Faculty Early Career Development Program Award from the National Science Foundation, Matthew R. Hallowell, assistant professor of construction engineering and management, plans to offer his students a more engaging, valuable academic experience. With the NSF CAREER Award, Hallowell is conducting a large research project in which students will also have the chance to participate.
Hallowell’s groundbreaking research, “Predictive Modeling of Construction Injuries in Complex Environments,” examines how injury prevention can be improved at construction sites. Rather than quantifying individual risks, this research looks to complete a content analysis on previous injury reports to identify fundamental attributes that could contribute to injuries. From there, Hallowell is using multivariate statistics to forecast the probability of specific injuries.
As part of the educational experience, Hallowell plans to teach students how to incorporate these models within an augmented reality system. Most universities teach construction safety based on OSHA standards, but this is often not enough to prevent injuries. While OSHA standards must be followed, even OSHA-compliant companies are experiencing injuries and fatalities. By students working with this augmented reality system, they will be better prepared to respond to the dynamics and complexities of construction environments once they begin their careers.
“Instead of having a checkbox or list of rules that must be followed, students learn how to be more proactive and redesign a worksite,” Hallowell says. “For example, you can get to the site and find an exposed edge, or you can design the facility so that it never had an exposed edge in the first place.”
With this educational approach, students can expect to receive a more valuable learning experience, Hallowell says. Students are not spending their time listening to lectures. Instead, they are using classroom time to experience this innovative research firsthand.
“It’s not lecture based by any means,” Hallowell says. “It’s more experiential learning, and it’s certainly more engaging. This will encourage active learning instead of passive learning, so the students don’t just sit and listen. They do and talk.”
Professor Matthew Hallowell was recently awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program award from the National Science Foundation for ”Predictive Modeling of Construction Injuries in Complex Environments.” The research objective is to test the hypothesis that over half of the variability in construction injury statistics can be explained by a few inherent and basic attributes of construction environments. If successful, the research results will enhance understanding of the fundamental causes of construction injuries and allow for accurate risk forecasts, directly addressing a critical societal concern that affects approximately six percent of the US workforce. The project places strong emphasis on teaching integration using virtual reality and outreach to the Hispanic community.
CEAE professor Abbie Liel and her team have been awarded a $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Civil Infrastructure Systems Program. The core component of the proposed research is a method for assessing the interaction of building environmental impacts and building ability to withstand earthquakes, storms, and other hazards. The effect of hazard resistance during each phase of a building’s lifespan is considered, accounting for 1) differences in building design and construction depending on the hazards considered, 2) maintenance, repair, and renovation requirements, considering the risk of damage during hazardous events, and 3) disasters that shorten the building service life. The research will facilitate the development of criteria connecting structural building design considerations for earthquakes, wind and snow loads with green building ratings that could be incorporated in building standards and design guidelines.
CEAE professor John McCartney and Co-PI Adam Reed (Law) received $1.01 million from the National Science Foundation for work on “Sustainable Energy Pathways Collaborative: Pathways to Scalable, Efficient and Sustainable Soil Borehole Thermal Energy Storage Systems.”
This project focuses on the fundamental multi-physics processes, engineering challenges, and implementation strategies for soil borehole thermal energy storage (SBTES) of heat generated from solar thermal arrays. A transformative approach of forming a heat pipe by exploiting the thermo-hydraulic properties of unsaturated soils and coupled heat, water, and vapor flow processes is being investigated. Field, laboratory, and numerical simulations are being used to identify the optimum scalable energy storage efficiency for SBTES systems for residential-, community-, and industrial-scale operations. Data on usage trends and socio-economic issues related to policy strategies from existing sites is being analyzed to identify implementation strategies. SBTES systems could provide a key element in balancing the cost and efficiency of renewable energy technologies such as solar-thermal panels, influencing the fate of these technologies.
CEAE professor Joseph Ryan and his research team have been awarded a $12 million grant as part of the National Science Foundation’s Sustainability Research Network initiative. The team will study the social, ecological, and economic aspects of natural gas development and the protection of air and water resources. As part of the project, CEAE professor Harihar Rajaram will lead a team that will investigate the risks of natural gas and oil extraction to water quality.
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