Better roads closer to reality thanks to USC

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Better roads closer to reality thanks to USC


Published on 24 February 2015

Increasing the durability of Australian roads and, in the process, saving governments millions of dollars are the likely outcomes of a collaboration between USC engineering academics and an international expert in pavement construction.

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Susan Tighe, who is the Director of the Centre for Pavement and Transport Technology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, has just begun and eight-month sabbatical at USC, where she will advise the University on its plans to establish a specialised Queensland Pavement Centre.

Professor Tighe, who has more than 400 technical publications on road and runway engineering and surfacing to her name, has been involved in major projects on five different continents and looks forward to collaborating with USC.

“Though our climates are different, a lot of the challenges with pavement are similar in Canada and Australia,” she said. “Canada is a big country like Australia and we’re very reliant on road transport and in the north there are remote areas that rely heavily on air transport.

“Trucks and aircraft are getting bigger and heavier and with climate change in Canada we’ve had to deal with more rainfall, flooding and extremes in temperatures.

“A lot of factors impact the way we approach pavement design and the way we analyse materials so I think there are a lot of opportunities to collaborate with USC in this research to result in improvements to Australian pavement.

“The lab facilities here are excellent and I feel that they are strategically very well placed to work with stakeholders to make sure they’re doing the research that can make a real difference,” she said.

During her time at USC Professor Tighe will also help teach the Master of Engineering in Transport Technologies and mentor PhD and final year students in their research and preparation of technical papers for international publication.

USC’s Professor of Civil Engineering Construction John Yeaman, said the University’s collaboration with Professor Tighe could pay big dividends locally, nationally and internationally.

“Queensland alone spends over a billion dollars a year fixing roads, so if our research can extend the life of pavements by even a few years that could save us tens of millions of dollars annually and billions in the longer term,” said Professor Yeaman.

“USC plans to establish The Queensland Pavement Centre as Australia’s research leader in cutting-edge design, construction and maintenance of pavement including roads and airfields and we welcome Professor Tighe’s input.”

While in Australia, Professor Tighe’s husband Dr Chris Raymond, will work as a consultant to the government on asphalt and construction management and their daughters Hannah, 11, and Carol, 9, will attend a local primary school.

— Jane Cameron

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