InTrans / Apr 05, 2017

Erica Mack represents ISU and civil engineering department at annual Capitol event

It’s all about a smooth path moving forward. And luckily for Erica Mack, her research is in concrete permeability and durability testing.

Mack, a senior in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University, was one of 25 students to present their research at the annual Research in the Capital event on March 28.

Research is an important part of the undergraduate learning experience, which is why her advisors—Peter Taylor and Xuhao Wang—encouraged her to apply and share her work at this particular event.

Both Taylor and Wang work for the National Concrete Pavement Technology (CP Tech) Center at ISU’s Institute for Transportation, with Taylor being the Center’s Director. Mack’s work is an extension of research currently being conducted by the Center.

Mack’s Research at the Capital presentation was entitled “Assessment of Simple Test to Evaluate Concrete Permeability.”

Permeability is defined as “the rate of flow of a fluid into a porous solid.” Permeability is quality of concrete that affects its potential durability because most deterioration mechanisms involve fluid transport. Considerable research has already been conducted seeking to find an ideal permeability test for concrete. However, the common weakness of most tests currently available includes the difficulty of controlling and measuring the moisture condition of the sample. Another weakness is the relatively large size of the sample needed to conduct a test.

In Mack’s research, she, along with Taylor and Wang, are investigating the ability of a simple test to indicate relative permeability characteristics of different concrete mixtures. The research ultimately aims at assessing the consistency of the test, and, if proven, would provide a base for future research and mixture evaluation.

“This test is really a simple one and a really fast one as well,” said Wang. “And it’s not being used by anyone right now in the concrete industry.”

Mack will present again on this research on April 11 at Iowa State’s Memorial Union as a part of the Campus-wide Symposium on Undergraduate Research & Creative Expression.

See the story about the Research in the Capital event