on June 10th, 2020

Roads are an essential part of everyday life and crucial to economic development. Transportation networks require well-maintained roads; however, the maintenance of roads is a resource-heavy job. It is a costly exercise for local governments to constantly repair roads, and therefore, the sector is primed for innovation.

The techniques involved in the construction of roads are in flux and being revolutionized across the globe. Keeping abreast of the latest methodologies may be daunting for engineers; however, the Engineering Institute of Technology is ready and able to equip engineers with the skills they need to thrive in the industry.

A technological leap in road repair

Experts predict that soon small autonomous unmanned vehicles may be dispatched to patch cracked and potholed roads. Others say the key to road construction and maintenance in the future lies in self-healing concrete, making disruptive road works a thing of the past.

Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering has created ‘smart’ concrete. This new technology allows concrete-paved bridges and highways to alert engineers when extensive damage has occurred.

Luna Lu, an associate professor at Purdue, explains that Purdue is ‘investigating different types of highly porous, sandlike materials called internal curing agents to mix into concrete.’ When the road begins cracking, the agents absorb water and cause a chemical reaction. The reaction starts to ‘heal’ the concrete by creating a solid that seals the crack.

The university is silent on what specific elements go into their self-healing concrete, but are promising that their research is being compiled and readied for publication soon.

The university is confident that the concrete could even cut down traffic jams and the length of road closures for repairs as a result of its crack-identification capabilities. The smart concrete could “talk to the engineer,” says Lu, visually showing them when preventive maintenance is needed.

Engineering researchers are hoping that self-healing road materials will help roads last longer. The aim is to have them last up to eighty years without the need for maintenance. Getting to that point will involve a ton of hard work.

Source:Purdue University Images/ Cihang Huang

Right now, however, sustainability in road construction is becoming paramount due to the environmental impact of road construction. The protection of landscapes is now a huge consideration in the construction industry, and roads need to be constructed as greenly as possible.

Learning the fundamentals

Engineers may still be pondering the future of roads; however, one thing is for sure: engineers will always need to be proficient in the fundamentals of road construction. Technolgy around road construction is developing rapidly, so it is also vital for engineers attached to these projects to be ahead of the learning curve, by undertaking regular professional development.

At the Engineering Institute of Technology, we are delivering a three-month online professional development course in the Fundamentals of Road Construction. The course covers the basic principles and concepts used in the management, planning, design, operations, and construction of roads. It also consolidates the cutting-edge methodologies being employed by construction industries across the globe. The fundamentals you will learn, include:

  • The factors involved in the planning of the roads
  • How to categorize and prioritize the properties of alternative road materials.
  • Earthwork operations
  • How to propose drainage and pavements systems
  • Roadside aspects

The course ensures that students receive both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the construction, operability, design, and maintenance of road facilities. It covers the appropriate maintenance measures, adaptation, and improvement of roads - most importantly, how to ensure safety for motorists as well.

EIT’s Professional Certificate of Competency in Fundamentals of Road Construction includes modules on control of surface water drainage, the provision of underground drainage, the provision of safety barriers, and signs and lighting for the safe operation of the road.

Works Cited

Engineering, Interesting. “Simple Self-Healing Roads Can Last Up to 80 Years.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 12 Mar. 2018, interestingengineering.com/self-healing-roads-last-80-years.

Purdue News Service. “Enabling Highways and Bridges to Prevent Their Own Damage.” Purdue University News, www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q2/enabling-highways-and-bridges-to-prevent-their-own-damage.html.

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