UTA gauges resilience of highways, bridges during natural disasters

UTA engineer aims to reduce natural disaster damage to transportation infrastructure

Friday, Mar 05, 2021 • Herb Booth : Contact


Sharareh “Sherri” Kermanshachi, assistant professor in civil engineering

A University of Texas at Arlington civil engineering assistant professor has received two grants to evaluate and measure the resilience of highways, bridges and other critical transportation infrastructure networks.

In the first project, Sharareh (Sherri) Kermanshachi is leading a $112,236 grant funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET), headquartered at Louisiana State University. She will develop a multi-level dynamic model that measures the resilience level of transportation infrastructure networks in natural disasters.

Tran-SET is a collaborative partnership among 11 institutions, including UT Arlington, across five states. It was established in 2016 “to address the accelerated deterioration of transportation infrastructure through the development, evaluation and implementation of cutting-edge technologies, novel materials and innovative construction management processes.”

Kermanshachi has teamed up with Jianling Li, professor of planning in the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, on the U.S. Department of Transportation project.

In the second project, funded by a $50,000 grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), Kermanshachi will perform a vulnerability analysis on transportation infrastructure across the region and develop strategies to enhance the resilience of critical infrastructure prior to the occurrence of natural and manmade disasters.

“Many public agencies do not have the decision-making framework in place to assess the resilience of their infrastructure and accurately evaluate the cost of damages due to disasters,” Kermanshachi said. “This project will develop a decision-support tool and quantitative models that measure the resilience level of transportation infrastructure and recommend the optimum resilience enhancement strategies.”

She will develop a decision-making tool based on the resilience measurement dimensions and identified strategies of the project. In addition, Kermanshachi will create a color-coded vulnerability analysis of transportation infrastructure in North Texas.

“The models and tool resulting from this project will significantly help and guide decision-makers,” she said. “We aim to reduce future damage to transportation infrastructure through accurate measurement of their resilience levels prior to disasters, recommend cost-effective strategies and solutions, and save taxpayer money.”

Ali Abolmaali, chair of the UTA Department of Civil Engineering, said Kermanshachi’s work will lead to longer lasting and more durable infrastructure.

“Materials to rebuild infrastructure following a natural disaster can be astronomical,” Abolmaali said. “This project could give public officials needed information to prioritize the infrastructure resilience enhancement needs.”

Kermanshachi is a recipient of the 2020 Women in Technology Award from the Dallas Business Journal. She has been selected as a 2019 Rising Stars in Civil + Structural Engineering. She received the 2018 Design-Build Institute of America Distinguished Leadership Award in the faculty category and was the only faculty recipient of the award for 2018. Kermanshachi was also the only academic recipient of the 2017 Texas and Louisiana Engineering News Record Top 20 Under 40 Award.

Some of her other awards include the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, Professional Service Award; ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Fellowship; Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute Fellowship; ASCE Outstanding Reviewer; Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award; Open Educational Resources Research Fellowship; DBIA Owner Scholarship and the Graduate Climate Award.