Civil Engineering Awarded U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Grant

From left, professors Andrew Braham, Rick Coffman and Michelle Barry of the Department of Civil Engineering.
University Relations

From left, professors Andrew Braham, Rick Coffman and Michelle Barry of the Department of Civil Engineering.

Three civil engineering department faculty members were recently awarded a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to investigate and enhance existing pavements and evaluate their structure for military infrastructure problems. Professors Andrew Braham and Rick Coffman, and associate professor Michelle Barry, all of the U of A Department of Civil Engineering, along with graduate and undergraduate students, will work to develop rapid methods for evaluating and improving roadways for military operations.

The 18-month project, titled Pavement Enhancement and Structure Evaluation, will see the team from Arkansas working together with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. One of the collaborating researchers at the center is a U of A graduate, Sadie Casillas, who earned bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in civil engineering.

Braham's research group in Fort Worth, Texas at the 2019 Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists Annual Meeting.
Braham's research group in Fort Worth, Texas, at the 2019 Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists Annual Meeting
Compacting ashpalt samples in the lab.
Compacting asphalt samples in the lab.
An asphalt mixture sample being tested
An asphalt mixture sample being tested.

The site of this project, an approximately 11,000-square-feet-space located in the Engineering Research Center in south Fayetteville, will benefit a great deal beyond the scope of this project, thanks to the equipment that will be incorporated into the lab. The resources in the Engineering Research Center allow faculty and students to manufacture and test asphalt pavement materials and quantify characteristics of soil, both in the lab and in the field.

Braham and his team will be doing testing and research that very few institutions around the country will be capable of conducting, thanks to the center's facility and this grant. Along with the research conducted on the Fayetteville campus, students will be able to visit the Engineering Research Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with presenting research findings at state and national conferences.

This Pavement Enhancement and Structure Evaluation project will consist of six tasks, all related to pavement infrastructure:

  • Construct a portable pavement maintenance lab and perform preliminary field testing to provide a template for a deployable maintenance lab for military applications.
  • Identify two to three promising surface treatments that are able to withstand the unique and variable loads of military vehicles to extend the life of deteriorated pavements.
  • Develop an easy-to-use matrix to quickly identify the type and quantity of stabilizing agent for Full Depth Reclamation.
  • Develop a quick and easy test for in-place moisture content and density of soil.
  • Develop a quick and easy test for stiffness of pavement materials.
  • Develop a quick and easy test for layer thickness of in-place material.

Most of the project goals target military applications. However, much like many things we take for granted in society today, the work is expected to be applicable to most civilian infrastructure as well. Pavement materials and roadways are an integral component in today’s society.

“I always enjoy telling students that not only are 94% of our roads surfaced with asphalt mixtures,” Braham says, “but if you add up all of the paved roads in the United States, it is an equal surface area to approximately 9.4 million American football fields, including end zones.”

For more information about the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center please visit:

About the Department of Civil Engineering: The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Arkansas was established in 1897 when the College of Engineering made clear the separation of civil and mechanical engineering degrees. The department maintains an accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and ranks in the top 10 percent of civil engineering schools nationwide according to Best Engineering News. The department earned more than $7 million in research awards for fiscal year 2022, while our graduates earn a starting salary averaging $68,000. To learn more about the Department of Civil Engineering, please visit our website.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News


Andrew Braham, Professor of Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering

Mike Emery, media specialist
Department of Civil Engineering


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