The results of research conducted in the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering were recently recognized in April 2005 by the Structural Stability Research Council (SSRC), which presented them with the Vinnakota Award for a paper detailing their research efforts. The research work will soon be put into practice in the construction of bridges used in the renovation of the Fulton and Irvington overpasses on Loop 610 in north Houston. Ozgur Egilmez, Ph.D. candidate, and Professors Todd Helwig and Reagan Herman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have developed details that will enable the construction of more efficient and economical bridges.
The Vinnakota award is given to a paper whose lead author is a student, and the student is also required to make the presentation of the paper at the SSRC annual conference. The award was presented to Egilmez, Helwig, and Herman at the 2005 Annual Stability Conference in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
“We’re of course pleased with the honor of receiving the Vinnakota Award, but to have a Ph.D. student win this award, as he’s looking for a faculty position for himself, it’s a timely recognition,” Herman said. “He’s been here for three years now and has accomplished an incredible amount of work. He’s done a lot of laboratory testing and finite element computer analysis that has improved our understanding in this area.”
The paper, “Strength of Metal Deck Forms used for Stability Bracing of Steel Bridge Girders”, summarizes the team’s laboratory and computational research findings. In the past, design engineers have typically used cross-frames to brace bridge girders during construction. Helwig said this type of framing is expensive and there can be long term problems associated with their use. Their research proposes that permanent metal deck forms, which are already used in bridge construction to hold the wet concrete in place as it cures, can be used for stability bracing, thereby eliminating a number of cross-frames from the bridge.
By using an element of the bridge that is already in place, the cost of these bridges is lowered significantly, without reducing their stability.
“This simple method can dramatically improve the bracing,” Helwig said. “The paper documented some of our lab test results and explained the implementation project on Loop 610 where the Texas Department of Transportation is using metal deck forms as bracing. It’s the first time they’ve been relied on, and they’ve eliminated 340 cross frames on the implementation bridges, which has saved over $200,000 on these bridges. One application of this work has almost paid for the research, so it’s been money well spent.”