Civil Student Presents to Army Corps of Engineers


The University of Arkansas Civil Engineering Department was well represented at the Army Corps of Engineers at the ERDC in Vicksburg Mississippi as Civil Engineering student, Christine Lozano presented her research to a panel of professional Engineers in June.

Locks are essential to waterway transport for many river and canal systems, allowing passage of ships through areas of differing water elevation. Over 23M cargo tons passed US Army Corps locks in January of 2015 alone, and 19 locks aid water transport throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. These waterway locks typically consist of large steel gates that are subject to large alternating forces as water levels are changed, and as lock gates open/close. Repeated loads, corrosive waterway environments, and component geometry can all contribute to fatigue/fracture issues that can limit lock gate service and inhibit the overall reliability of waterway transport. Unfortunately, fatigue issues within steel lock gate components are often only evident once the gates are emptied for routine service, or once serviceability is interrupted by structural failures. Lock service interruptions/repairs are costly (temporary repairs to the Montgomery Lock & Dam =$3.5M) but manageable from a fatigue perspective. Research into cheap, corrosion-tolerant fatigue retrofit solutions are needed. The following project addresses fatigue issues within lock gates, identifying critical components and exploring methods for preventing fatigue cracks for the entire gate component service life. The use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) plates will be explored along with innovative pre-stress and bonding strategies to fine-tune component stresses and improve fatigue life.

Lozano was invited by the Corps of Engineers for her studies on the effects of fatigue strengthening of steel lock gates, funded by the Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center (MarTREC)

“The trip was a good experience. It was very exciting to see the facilities of the Army Corps.”, said Lozano, “The presentation went really well and the Army Corps representatives seemed very excited about the research work and how it could help them. There was some good discussion and helpful comments were made about things I could look into.”