Student’s asphalt research earns national recognition

By Ethan Nash, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture intern

WuPULLMAN, Wash. – A Washington State University student is helping the state transportation department investigate the use of steel in asphalt road paving to reduce tire wear. Shenghua Wu also is helping the agency evaluate the use of recycled asphalt shingles in pavement used across the state.

For this and more work in asphalt research, the graduate student in civil engineering is one of two nationwide recipients of the David R. Jones scholarship from the Association of Modified Asphalt Producers (AMAP). The award is presented yearly to young engineers and chemists doing research in asphalt paving technology.

Over the last three years, under the guidance of advisor Haifang Wen, Wu has been investigating and evaluating the long-term performance of warm-mix asphalts in 34 field studies across the U.S. with the aim of recommending best practices for their use.

His research includes developing asphalt binders that perform well in low temperatures, studying the effects of engine oil on asphalt binders, assessing asphalt surface treatments and testing fibers used in asphalt.

Wu earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in China before coming to WSU in 2011 to pursue his Ph.D. with Wen, whom he thanked for guidance and for allowing him to work at WSU’s Washington Center for Asphalt Technology (WCAT).