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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 3  

Notebook

 

Hitting the road

By ABBY WILSON ’10

Above: Dr. Kerrie Schattler and MITCHELL WEDELL ’09 measure distresses in the pavement along a Peoria County road last summer. Photography by Duane Zehr.

 

If you drove along a county road in Peoria County last summer, you might have seen Dr. Kerrie Schattler’s team of student researchers collecting data on pavement conditions. Schattler, assistant professor of civil engineering and construction, and her team of 11 graduate and undergraduate students “hit the road” to collect data for the county. With a $99,150 grant from the Peoria County Highway Department, she developed a pavement man-agement system to monitor the condition of Peoria’s 311 miles of county road.

Schattler and her students conducted a survey of county road surfaces, examining the conditions of the pavement and measuring distresses in the road. She began preliminary work on the project in April 2007, and continued for almost two years. The county was in need of up-to-date records on pavement conditions, so Schattler practically had to start from scratch.

“That’s common,” she explains. “A lot of times we assume that data is readily available, but once you realize what it really takes to collect it, it’s understandable why other counties across the nation face similar challenges.”

She worked closely with the county, ensuring that the system she and her students developed met the county’s specific needs.

Student researchers then went out and surveyed portions of county roads by measuring distresses, like cracks, in the pavement. They used a statistical procedure to ensure that the portions actually sampled represented the condition of the county roads. Now the county can maintain the records and management system by collecting the data on a routine basis and also by updating it after road maintenance work is performed.

The research serves a deeper purpose than just helping Peoria County — the professor’s true passion is helping her students. Through her work with pavement management systems, Schattler sponsored a graduate student, COLLETTE GLAUBER ’07 MSCE ’08, and gave undergrads the opportunity to work on a major research project.

If a mentor at Wayne State University hadn’t provided Schattler with research opportunities, she probably wouldn’t be at Bradley today. As a junior, she became involved in a research program in the engineering department. When she was ready to graduate, her mentor told her she “has what it takes.” She was offered a stipend and a full graduate school tuition scholarship. By the time Schattler finished her master’s, she had another stipend and tuition scholarship that enabled her to earn a doctoral degree in civil engineering.

Schattler stayed for two years after graduation to teach and conduct research at Wayne State. She was hired by Bradley to fill a need for a faculty member who specialized in transportation engineering. She currently has about 20 students in her undergraduate transportation classes, up from 10 when she first began teaching at Bradley in 2005. Last year, she received the outstanding faculty award from the department of civil engineering and construction.

Schattler plans to continue establishing a research group at Bradley to provide more opportunities for students. “I’m here to stay,” she says. “I love it here; I’m truly blessed to have found such a great place to work and thrive and to have fun.”