Kyle Younkin, a senior in construction engineering, walked away from the GeoSmart India conference with a first place title for his conference presentation. His presentation at the conference, which took place from March 1-3 in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India, was titled “Application of LiDAR and Structure from Motion Data for Road Roughness Evaluation.”
The research grew out of work Younkin had been doing with CCEE professor David White and CCEE post-doc Ahmad Alhasan on a project with the Iowa Department of Transportation to analyze changes in gravel road roughness using laser scanning. Younkin started to consider the price of the machinery they were using ($100,000 for the scanner) and wanted to test out a cheaper option. Using a commercial grade camera and open source software, he was able to create the same 3D point cloud as the original scanner but for less than 1% of the cost.
Younkin says that allowing him to compare two different technologies so extensively is what made this research unique. “Spatial comparison has never been used this way to measure change in geometry by capture method for roadways. This method opens the door for many future studies in 3D technology in the construction industry.”
Younkin commends White and Alhasan for their support in allowing him to pursue his research interests. “I tell everyone I meet that Iowa State University is one of the best engineering programs in the country because it provides many resources to students who wish to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom.”
The experiences Younkin had at the conference and with research in general have taught him that a little motivation and curiosity can go a long way. “I want to let all undergraduate students know they have the opportunity to learn so much if they just take a shot. If they are willing to learn, work hard and make mistakes, they have the chance to sit under world-class researchers in their field and gain from their experience.”
His work in laser scanning has continued while on a student exchange program in New Delhi for eight months where he is using this technique as a research scholar analyzing emerging affordable housing systems. “Whatever you do,” Younkin says, “do it with all your heart because I believe that the world will be a better place for having engineers like you who excel in their work and take joy in what they do.”