Friday, August 14, 2015

URSP Student Nicole Nmair Evaluates the Suitability of the Micro-Deval Test to Estimate Durability of Base Aggregates of Northern Virginia

I remember sitting in soil mechanics class (CEIE 331) where my professor, now OSCAR mentor, Dr. Burak Tanyu passionately spoke about the comprehensive process of road construction. I walked away from that class with more questions than answers.  Some questions included the type of aggregate used and its durability. Majority of research on road aggregate is conducted through the use of the Micro-Deval and the process indicated by ASTM D6928. Therefore my research was to investigate the credibility of the correlation between the results from the Micro-Deval test and that of field performance. In addition I sought to understand the correlation between aggregate and revolution, aggregate and abrasion, and lastly, aggregate and saturation time. This project has opened my eyes to a potential future in the geotechnical field. I was revealed to the necessity in understanding the lab component of engineering. As an aspiring master’s degree student, being exposed to research and being able to differentiate between the lab performance and that in the field is vital. This project has solidified my desire and success in the engineering world.

My week consists of a balance between laboratory work and literary research. With regards to the experimentation, this includes weighing samples, abrasion, washing samples, oven-drying samples, and running the Micro-Deval which in itself takes about four hours. It also includes preforming other tests such as specific gravity and absorption tests as well as sieve analyses. I also meet up with my professor on a weekly basis to discuss the results of the experiment and the literature. The literature I continuously read includes ASTMs, scientific articles, past experiments, and technical reports.

Every week, new discoveries are made as I perform more experiments. This week I discovered the lack of correlation between saturation time and the percent loss of aggregate due to abrasion. This is significant for it allows us to conclude that a saturation time of one hour is a good indicator of aggregate loss with regards to diabase, limestone, and slate. Overall, this experience has shown me who I am as a geotechnical researcher.