UTA researcher to study risks of Texas, Louisiana transportation projects

Transportation infrastructure


Credit: UT Arlington

Sharareh “Sherri” Kermanshachi, assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, has received grants from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development aimed at identifying and formulating best practices for construction of transportation projects.

Kermanshachi was awarded $223,652 from the Texas Department of Transportation to determine and prioritize the risks encountered by construction, maintenance and specialty inspectors. She and her team will interview TxDOT chief inspectors, project managers, area engineers and assistants to improve the inspectors’ performance and increase the construction and maintenance efficiency of Texas infrastructure projects.

Kermanshachi will then develop best practices to optimize performance of field inspectors. In the end, she plans to establish a knowledge-sharing framework and network to ensure that lessons learned are documented and shareable to others in the field.

“The ultimate goal is to increase safety of TxDOT inspectors and improve knowledge sharing among senior and junior workforce within the construction and maintenance environments,” she said.
Kermanshachi also received a $39,183 grant from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to analyze project delivery time, execution cost and change orders using both in-house design and construction, and engineering and inspection consultants.

“This grant aims to investigate various aspects of transportation project delivery including risks, costs, timelines and reworks done in-house, versus using an outsourcing entity,” Kermanshachi said. “This project will determine the optimal project distributions among public and private transportation entities and guide resource allocations for delivery of outsourced projects in the transportation sector.”

Ali Abolmaali, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, said Kermanshachi’s projects could have a far-reaching effect on how public entities intersect with construction engineering and inspection services in the transportation industry.

“Her goals on these projects extend beyond looking at a single transportation project or single state transportation agency,” Abolmaali said. “Her research always looks at enhancing project and organizational efficiencies with a very broad perspective. These two projects are great illustrations of her efforts in optimizing construction and maintenance performances of highway and bridge projects.”

Kermanshachi recently won the 2018 Design-Build Institute of America Distinguished Leadership Award in the faculty category. She is the only recipient this year.

In addition to serving as the director of UTA’s Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environment, or RISE, Lab and supervising multiple doctoral and master’s students, Kermanshachi is the founder of UTA’s Design-Build Institute of America student chapter and currently serves as its faculty adviser. She has conducted several national- and state-level research projects and has published more than 80 books, journal articles, conference papers and research reports. In addition, she has served as a panel member on multiple research projects funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Kermanshachi also has received several prestigious national and regional awards including the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, Professional Service Award; ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Fellowship; the Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute Fellowship; ASCE Outstanding Reviewer; Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award; Open Educational Resources Research Fellowship and the Graduate Climate Award.

Kermanshachi was the only academic recipient of the 2017 Texas and Louisiana Engineering News Record Top 20 Under 40 Award and she was also invited to serve as the judge for the 2017 and 2018 projects.


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