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Civil engineering students sweep top spots at state poster competition

Group shot of men posed in suits.

James Dawson, Pedro Ruiz-Fabian, Sam Runge, Alaa Elsisi, Hesham El-Emam, Jacob Berry, Yohan Chang and Boris Claros attended the Transportation Engineers Association of Missouri’s annual conference held March 9-11 in St. Louis. Elsisi finished first and Dawson second in the poster session. Photo courtesy of Charles Nemmers.

Transportation scholars from the MU Civil Engineering Department attended the Transportation Engineers Association of Missouri’s annual conference held March 9-11 in St. Louis. MU students presented posters at the event and two took home top honors.

Research projects at the poster session covered a wide range of transportation topics including safety, materials, component performance and non-destructive investigation.

Civil engineering doctoral student Alaa Elsisi’s poster on “Evaluation of Finger Plate and Flat Plate Connection Design” came in first, and second place went to civil engineering master’s student James Dawson, who presented “Use of Infrared Thermography for the Detection of Subsurface Damage in Bridges.”

Elsisi, whose advisor is civil engineering Professor Hani Salim, said he has been conducting transportation research since 2006.

“I worked in different subjects related to steel and concrete bridges and structures, composite material, and numerical modeling and simulation,” he said.

In 2009 he began work on a project on fatigue life evaluation of vintage riveted steel bridges.

“I published two international journal publications based on the work,” Elsisi said.

Elsisi began working with Salim as a research assistant in 2014 on his poster project. The work is funded by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The research team also includes Sarah Orton, assistant MU civil engineering professor, and members from MoDOT and HDR Engineering.

“This was a good opportunity for me to gain a lot of new experience in bridge research and field design,” he said.

Working with civil engineering Professor Glenn Washer, Dawson said his research uses infrared cameras to detect thermal gradients in order to detect abnormalities under the surface of concrete bridge decks.

“Multiple testing techniques and multiple infrared cameras have been developed and implemented in the field,” he said of the work.

Dawson plans to join the work force as a structural engineer once he completes his master’s in December 2017. After completing his doctorate, Elsisi is open to a job in industry or academia but hopes to continue conducting research, particularly in areas related to bridges and structures.