College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Ultra-high performance concrete innovation and collaboration at international interactive symposium

A group of people stands on a bridge deck

The third International Interactive Symposium on Ultra-High Performance Concrete brought together nearly 300 UHPC researchers, engineers, industry representatives, and students in Delaware – but UHPC research and industry leadership in the state of Iowa stood strong at the event.

The symposium was co-chaired by Cyclone Engineer Sri Sritharan, a world-recognized expert in UHPC research, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, Wilkinson Chair in the College of Engineering, and assistant dean for research.

“The UHPC symposium uses a unique format to promote the use of this innovative material by emphasizing interaction among participants and stakeholders throughout the event. The UHPC community shared best practices in material composition, design methods and applications from the hundreds of bridges and other projects using UHPC – and from the latest research discoveries in emerging UHPC solutions,” said Sritharan. “Day two of the symposium included field visits and demonstrations of the use of UHPC in different forms, which turned out again as a favorite activity for many participants.”

Gomaco UHPC paver is used by CeEntek to upgrade the deck surface of a Delaware DOT bridge.

Alumni and industry UHPC leaders

Cyclone Engineering alumni and Iowa industry expertise was showcased at one field visit to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a $71 million rehabilitation project that deploys about 4000 cubic yards of UHPC as an overlay material to upgrade the deck surface of the northbound structure.

The principal engineer for the project is Iowa State alumnus with Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Shekhar Scindia (’93 M.S. civil engineering), an advocate for the use of UHPC in large-scale applications.

A special paver used to place the UHPC in the Delaware Memorial Bridge project, as well as at another deck overlay project site visited by the participants, was manufactured in Iowa by Gomaco. The UHPC deck overlay concept was developed at Iowa State in partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation before its first application on a bridge in North America in 2016.

This project and his European UHPC experience inspired Walo Bertschinger, president and CEO of the Board of the Swiss construction company Walo Bertschinger AG, to focus on automating the UHPC deck overlay application in North America, facilitating the manufacturing of the paver in Iowa. 

Photo by FHWA

Next-generation of UHPC innovators

(above, left to right) Bin Cai, postdoctoral research associate, Anisha Karki, graduate student in civil engineering, Sahith Gali, postdoctoral research associate, and Jozepha Soborowicz, senior majoring in civil engineering, also took part in the UHPC symposium – participating in research paper and poster presentations and networking with the UHPC community.

And a Cyclone Engineering student team that included Karki and Soborowicz got hands-on experience advancing UHPC in a competition to develop a new UHPC mix design with a focus on compressive strength. After undergoing compression testing, the Iowa State team placed second, squaring off against other student teams from across the world.

“Iowa State University and Iowa Department of Transportation have played key roles in promoting the use of UHPC over the past two decades, resulting in Iowa doing the first applications of this unique material to bridge infrastructures in the nation. I am glad to see us playing an active role in organizing the UHPC symposium in partnership with Benjamin Graybeal of FHWA and continue to look for innovative ways to use UHPC to increase the longevity of bridges and other structures,” said Sritharan.

Bill Kulish of Steelike demonstrates a sprayable form of UHPC.