Engineering majors at Mississippi State work to revolutionize state infrastructure

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – As we wrap up a week-long look at rebuilding Mississippi, 12 ‘s Alex Love travels to Mississippi State to speak with engineering students about the cutting edge of infrastructure.   

The next generation of engineers at Mississippi State are researching new and creative ways to build better roads and bridges.

Director of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Isaac Howard says, “Where would your life be today, tomorrow, or a month from now without roads, bridges, water treatment systems? And we try to engage our students there first and then we get into the more technical matters.”

In 2019, MSU helped develop the loaded rubber wheel tracker to evaluate making stronger asphalt to withstand more traffic.

Howard says, “We can make asphalt more resistant to that rutting and stability problems that you see in the summertime in the wheel paths and stoplight things of that nature.”

In one of the engineering labs, students get to make their own concrete with machines that are stronger than you see today Bridging the way to stronger than humans.

Engineering Ph.D. student Ashley Carey says, “This concrete that we’re making here has a lot more cement and less water in it than your conventional concrete. You use specialty admixtures like this along with Steele fibers. You could go in and just fix small parts of bridges instead of having to tear the whole bridge down.”

Students are learning how to build more cost-efficient roads. They have latched on to recycling road materials. Improving old asphalt in the lab – and sending it off to contractors.

Engineering masters student Amanda Hufft says, “These were actually taken out of the ground these are actual pavement where there are some recycled materials as in Steele slag, recycled asphalt shingles, crushed concrete to use within Mississippi infrastructure.”

“You take an old road, you chew it up into small pieces, you take it back to an asphalt plant and you mix it up as part of the ingredients in the new mixture,” said Howard.