Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Heinrich Receives 2nd Place at Oklahoma Transportation Research Day

Samantha Heinrich, a senior from O’Fallon, Illinois, has been working with CEES professor Muralee and assistant professor Scott Harvey on their Oklahoma Department of Transportation  research project.  She presented her research titled “Smart Post-Earthquake Bridge Inspection Protocol for Oklahoma” at the Oklahoma Transportation Research Day on October 20.  Her poster was awarded second place overall.

The research involves revising ODOT’s Post Earthquake Bridge Inspection Protocol, in particular updating the magnitude-based inspection radii to answer the question: how far from the epicenter of an earthquake can we expect to see damage? “To revise the radii, we examined both the capacity of and the demand on ODOT bridges. Bridge capacity was measured using HAZUS fragility curves, which give the probability of a bridge being in a certain damage state based on the intensity of shaking.  The seismic demand on the bridges is characterized by the expected intensity of shaking, which we calibrated to ground-motion data for all earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater affecting Oklahoma since 2010. Our results led to a recommendation for ODOT to update their current protocol. With the new inspection radii, ODOT will be able to make better informed decisions regarding bridge management in light of the increased earthquake threat,” Heinrich said.

“When I was little, I really liked art and drawing pictures of houses, so my parents recommended that I look into architecture, which was what I was convinced I wanted to do until my junior year of high school.  That year, I attended Architecture Awareness Day at Drury University (a small school in Missouri).  As I learned more about architecture that day, I kept wondering where the math was, because in high school my favorite classes were math and physics. When I got back home, one of the people at my church recommended looking into architectural engineering, which was his major in college.  I liked what I saw and have found that, for me, architectural engineering is the perfect combination of working with buildings and learning the math and science behind them,” said Heinrich.

Upon graduation Heinrich plans to complete her master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in structural engineering through the Accelerated Masters program.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Calhoun Receives 2nd Place at OK-LSAMP Poster Competition

Skylar Calhoun received 2nd place for his research poster at the Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Research Symposium on September 26.  The title of his poster was "Importance of Vertical Accelerations in Pendulum-type Isolation Systems."  A junior from Norman, Oklahoma, Calhoun is guided in his research by his advisor CEES assistant professor Scott Harvey.

"I chose civil engineering as my major because I was interested in traveling at an early age and would usually be the navigator when my family would go on road trips throughout the United States.  I seriously considered civil engineering after meeting then CEES student Derek Holmes (BSCE '12) who told me about the opportunities available to him to improrove his hometown of Houston," Calhoun Said.

Calhoun's research focuses on the mitigation of earthquake hazards through the use of rolling isolation systems (RISs) which provide a simple and effective means to protect buildings and their contents from strong ground and floor motions produced by earthquakes.  "RISs reduce horizontal accelerations by transmitting energy into vertical motion, similar to a pendulum.  The goal of this project is to experimentally measure the resulting vertical accelerations, which have been ignored to date.  We believe these accelerations may be just as damaging as the distrubances we are attempting to mitigate.  Applications of RISs include the protection of servers in data centers.  These critical data systems directly influence the social and economic aspects of our society.  Therefore, it is important to prevent the chance of losing these systems at all cost," said Calhoun.

A recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers Scholarship in CEES, Calhoun is also a recipient of the Tomorrow's Engineer and Fred & Norma Ackman Engineering Scholarships from the Gallogly College of Engineering, the First Christian Church Scholarship, and the Frierson Scholarship from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Serving as the event/social media chair for the student chapter of ASCE, Calhoun is also a Young Life volunteer, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and a partcipant in the Gallogly College of Engineering Multicultural Engineering Program.  He works part-time as a student aide at Project Threshold here at OU which is a student support service program that provides first-generation, finanacially disadvantaged, and disabled students access to resources such as one-on-one tutoring, computer labs, and advising.

Calhoun is currently in the accelerated master's program in CEES and will stay to complete his master's degree upon graduation.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Challenges and Progress Cleaning Up One of Oklahoma’s Most Polluted Places

Meyer Ranch Passive Treatment System
Oct. 1, 2015
Joe Wertz
State Impact Oklahoma

The Tri-State Mining District in northeastern Oklahoma’s Ottawa County was once the world’s largest source of lead and zinc. The mines had closed by the 1970s, but pernicious pollution still plagues what is now known as the Tar Creek superfund site.

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“You read anecdotal accounts of the number of bars and restaurants and stuff like that,” says Bob Nairn, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds. “It was a booming place to be in those mining days.”

More than 11,000 men worked the mines during peak production in the 1920s. They produced about half the lead and zinc needed in World War I, and were the lifeblood of small Oklahoma towns like Cardin, Commerce and Picher.  Continue reading