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Alumni Highlights

Honors @ Georgia Southern Magazine CoverEach year, the University Honors Program publishes a magazine entitled Honors @ Georgia Southern. Congratulations to the four College of Engineering and Computing Honors students who graduated in May of 2013! See what they have to say about their undergraduate research in the highlights below; or read the stories about all of this year’s Honors graduates in the Honors @ Georgia Southern magazine.

Matthew Earnest, Civil EngineeringMatthew Earnest

Civil Engineering

Evaluation of Crumb Rubber Modified Asphalt with Vestenamer TOR

Dr. Junan Shen

Improved roadways have been a focus of research since the first routes connecting cities and towns were developed in ancient times. Our modern highways are no different, and new materials are being developed. Civil engineering major Matthew Earnest has been busy at work on one such new paving material—crumb rubber modified asphalt.

Earnest has been investigating the optimization of crumb rubber modified asphalt under the guidance of Dr. Junan Shen, who had a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). According to Earnest, the Department of Transportation started paving with rubberized asphalt prior to the implementation of his phase of the research in which he tested the optimization of rubberized asphalt binders with TOR. The asphalt makes use of crumb rubber that has been processed from scrap tires.

To collect data, Earnest traveled to a section of Interstate-75 in Valdosta, a section of Interstate-20 in Augusta, and another section of Interstate-20 in Perry, all of which have one side of the interstate paved with rubberized asphalt and the other not. At the sites Earnest gathered samples of the road to test the differences.

Crumb rubber-modified asphalt contains an additive called TOR, which creates a reaction within the asphalt to help bind it and keep it stable. Vestenamer TOR is used to help prevent some of the common problems that normally occur when asphalt and crumb rubber are combined, particularly a settling of the crumb rubber that makes the asphalt, in Earnest’s words, “thick and hard to work with.”

Normally, in order to lay rubberized asphalt, people must use “special equipment to pump it because it is thick and viscous,” said Earnest. “The new additive, TOR, combines asphalt and crumb in a way that makes the asphalt less viscous and easier to work with.”

Earnest evaluated the durability to determine if it remained the same with or without the additive because no prior research of the durability existed.

“As an advisor,” said Dr. Shen, “I show him where to go, but I do not tell him how to go. He needs to figure out the way step by step and then to discuss with me the reason and the possibility.”

Earnest will enroll in the Georgia Southern graduate program for a Master of Science in Applied Engineering where he will receive a research assistantship in order to further his research under Dr. Shen’s guidance.

Article by Yavaria Ryan

Tim Hunt, Information TechnologyTim Hunt

Information Technology

Best Practices for Developing Websites for Small Businesses or Organizations with Uncertainty

Dr. John O’Malley

Needing to establish a company website does not always equate to understanding how to create a site that is both intriguing and helpful for customers. This is a common problem among technology clients, as information technology major Tim Hunt well knows.

Through his honors thesis, entitled “Best Practices for Developing Websites for Small Businesses or Organizations with Uncertainty,” Hunt establishes how to most efficiently create websites to suit the needs of small businesses and organizations.

“Small businesses understand the purpose of a website,” Hunt explains, “However, they do not always understand what a website needs. The client knows what they do not want before they know what they do want. Website design includes repeated steps of feedback and changing something, feedback and changing something, and it keeps going until the client is happy.”

Hunt recognized this inefficient strategy while working on group projects in information technology classes. The clients would not provide enough feedback to construct a site and groups had a hard time completing work.

This is also a problem he would later face while working on his capstone project. “I was actually trying to make a website for a client who wanted a multiuser blog. I would use Adobe Photoshop and plan out certain web interfaces; she would tell me what she liked and did not like in the different designs,” he says.

Hunt’s interactions with his client really fueled his research. Hunt’s work for the website helped him realize that the most effective method in web design was difficult for him to actually constitute as data: “Most of my research is qualitative and not quantitative; my advisor, Dr. John O’Malley, helped me in how I could make my project a data based research project.”

In February, Hunt presented his findings at the Southeastern Decision Sciences Institute Conference in Charleston, South Carolina with Dr. O’Malley. Hunt will soon begin work in video production at North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia. “Having a web site will help small organizations network with others and become well-rounded,” Hunt said.

Article by Caitlin Tongco

Efadul Huq, Civil EngineeringEfadul Huq

Civil Engineering

Making Ultra-High Performance Concrete without Extreme Treatments & with Rudimentary Equipment

Dr. Gustavo Maldonado

Civil Engineering major Efadul Huq set out to do something that has never been attempted before at Georgia Southern: to produce ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) using everyday kitchen equipment.

While the compressive strength of traditional concrete is typically 2,500 to 5,000 pounds per square inch (psi), UHPC can be up to 22,000 psi without special pressure and temperature treatments. The material is often used in skyscrapers and blast-resistant structures, such as nuclear plants. However, UHPC normally requires extreme pressure, temperatures, and advanced equipment to make. Based on existing research work, Huq’s goal was to produce concrete as strong as possible with rudimentary equipment without using special treatments.

Huq used simple objects to create his concrete, such as kitchen utensils, food mixers, and a small weighing scale. Other materials were more difficult to acquire: Huq waited over an entire semester to obtain silica powder from China.

Huq’s initial results were not promising, reaching strengths of only 3,000 psi or even less. Nevertheless, after several rounds of trial-and-error and empirically learning relevant techniques, his concrete specimens began to show higher strengths.

He received financial support from a Georgia Southern Undergraduate Research grant as well as from the University Honors Program. An alumnus of the Construction Management Program, Matt Harvell, also generously provided assistance in acquiring needed materials.

Finally, on March 31, one of Huq’s specimens reached a strength of 19,169 psi. While this number is not in itself a world record, it is more than impressive, as it was achieved using rudimentary equipment.

Dr. Gustavo Maldonado who was closely involved with Huq’s efforts, worked with Huq to design the mixes and analyze results. He also contacted donors and took care of necessary paperwork. Dr. Maldonado often came to the lab to work side-byside with Huq to mix the concrete. “What would normally take me several hours to do would take less with him there,” Huq said.

“Efad is an outstanding student able to excel in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the humanities to sciences and engineering,” Dr. Maldonado said. “He is not only very responsible, mature and hardworking, but also extremely curious, intelligent, and an avid reader. Efad’s continuous appetite for knowledge, initiative, resourcefulness and perseverance also contributed to achieve a remarkable completion of his research project. Definitely, our Civil Engineering program was fortunate to be selected by Efad to study, learn, and perform undergraduate research.”

“Efad’s work has provided us with needed confidence and competitiveness in researching and producing ultra-high strength concrete that could be used in the highperformance applications required by modern civil infrastructure,” Dr. Maldonado said.

Huq has been accepted into the Match Corps Program in Boston, where he will have the opportunity of tutoring minority students for a year. His eventual goal is to continue working with engineering research at the graduate level. “Concrete is such an ordinary material, but it’s fascinating what you can learn when you do research with it.” Huq said. “It’s clear to me that research is what I want to pursue in my life.”

“It is my impression that Efadul Huq’s research experiences exposed him to typical difficulties, moments of frustration, needed perseverance, deductive reasoning, decision making, endurance, sense of accomplishment and joy associated with these activities,” Dr. Maldonado said. “Undoubtedly, his involvement in undergraduate research places him in an advantageous position to initiate and successfully complete graduate studies and research tasks in engineering or any other field.”

Article by Alicia Burrus

Lindah Kotut, Computer Science Lindah Kotut

Computer Science

Abnormal Data Detection in Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)

Dr. Wenjia Li

Through a complex series of designed steps, Lindah Kotut’s Thesis research culminated with the development of an original algorithm—a mathematical formula which the computer science major designed to detect abnormal data within Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

Kotut worked CPS data series concentrated in the transportation sector. After thoroughly analyzing this data, the senior designed an algorithm which implemented effective methods of traditional big data analysis and was specifically customized to analyze transport data.

Kotut was mentored by Dr. Wenjia Li. She speaks to Dr. Li’s investment in the project’s success: “that he was just as interested in the outcome of the research as I was, aided in my confidence that my research was worthwhile–a good mindset to have, it turned out, for those days when nothing seemed to work.”

Speaking to the importance of the honors Capstone experience, Kotut says, “I had not realized just how competitive a student and researcher I had become until I began my graduate school search. My GRE and GPA were both glanced over, but the Capstone was reviewed. Thoroughly.”

Kotut hopes that the program she designed to test her results will prove invaluable in the research field. The honors student aims to make her program an open source. With the code publicly available Kotut says that “it can be easily modified to custom fit any group of CPS so a better gauge of efficiency of these algorithms can be determined.”

Since graduating Kotut has worked full time as a web developer with the marketing department at Georgia Southern while she continues to fine tune her algorithm. In the fall the GS grad will begin study at Virginia Tech’s Computer Science graduate program.

Article by Kelsey Keane

Last updated: 1/2/2018