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Introducing Civil Engineering Undergraduates To The Premature Cracking Of Concrete Bridge Decks

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Effective Learning Innovations in Civil Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.962.1 - 12.962.10



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Paper Authors


Akhter Hossain University of South Alabama

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Akhter B. Hossain, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of South Alabama. He received his BS from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET); MS from the University of Cincinnati; and PhD from Purdue University. His research interests include early age shrinkage cracking of concrete, high performance concrete made with ultrafine pozzolans, and nondestructive testing of concrete structures. Dr. Hossain is actively involved in developing an undergraduate research program in concrete materials.

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Kevin White University of South Alabama

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Kevin D. White, Ph.D. is a professor and Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of South Alabama. He has been a member of the University Teaching Committee and has had a major role in developing a University supported undergraduate research experience program. Additionally, he has been actively researching small community/onsite wastewater systems and stormwater BMPs for over 15 years, including constructed wetlands (for both wastewater and storm water treatment applications) and decentralized wastewater concepts. His educational background includes Bachelor and Master’s degrees from LSU and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is a charter board member of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introducing Civil Engineering Undergraduates to the Premature Cracking of Concrete Bridge Decks


Early age cracking of concrete bridge decks is a major concern to the transportation industry. Although there have been numerous developments in concrete structural design and mixture design methods, this problem has not shown any sign of improvement. One of the major obstructions to solving this growing problem has been the lack of knowledge on the problem among personnel involved in the design and maintenance of concrete structures. This problem can be effectively addressed by educating those who are already in the transportation industry as well as those who will work in that industry in the future. This paper describes an attempt made at the University of South Alabama to introduce civil engineering undergraduate students, many of whom will work for the transportation industry in the future, to the premature cracking of concrete bridge decks and pavements. In the summer of 2005, a group of undergraduate students, under the supervision of a faculty member, made significant efforts to enhance the Civil Engineering Construction Materials Laboratory to increase its capacity for the purpose of studying the early age cracking of concrete. The students built an environmental chamber and devised several apparatus to simulate the mechanisms responsible for early age cracking of bridge decks. Several undergraduate students are currently using this enhanced laboratory to investigate the early age cracking of concrete. In addition, this laboratory enhancement has allowed to introduced several new topics and experimental demonstrations related to early age cracking of concrete to the Civil Engineering Materials theory and laboratory courses. The modified courses (theory and laboratory) were offered for the first time in the fall semester of 2006. To assess the effectiveness of this effort, the students were asked to complete a short survey at the end of the semester. Based on the results of the survey, it appears that this new program was able to contribute greatly to enriching the education and the understanding of the students where early age cracking of concrete structures is a concern.


The early deterioration of highway bridges due to transverse cracking has become a growing epidemic in the United States. A survey of the state departments of transportation in the past revealed that more than 100,000 bridges in the United States developed transverse cracking soon after construction1. Several years have passed since the survey but the problem has not improved. Studies have shown that the majority of this cracking occurs as a result of excessive shrinkage of the bridge deck concrete. Although the shrinkage of concrete is the major factor, addressing shrinkage alone will not lead to a solution because the overall mechanism is complicated. This form of premature deterioration of bridge decks is a major concern to the transportation industry, including construction contractors and state DOTs. The repair of a bridge deck is difficult and expensive. The most effective way of dealing with this problem is to prevent cracking from occurring in the first place by manipulating the properties of concrete to produce concrete with lower cracking susceptibility. In order to deal with this growing problem, personnel involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of highway bridge decks must have proper understanding of the mechanisms that cause shrinkage cracking of concrete. They must also be

Hossain, A., & White, K. (2007, June), Introducing Civil Engineering Undergraduates To The Premature Cracking Of Concrete Bridge Decks Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1576

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