UALR STUDENT WINS AWARD FOR RESEARCH INTO ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CONCRETE MIXTURE
April 1, 2016
By Angelita Faller
A civil engineer who traveled from India to study at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is researching a way to lower the cost of concrete and to save the environment from the harmful effects of quarry dust and fly ash.
Karthik Gowda, a first-year master’s student in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, won the student research paper competition and a cash prize after presenting his paper at the Arkansas chapter of the American Concrete Institute annual meeting on Jan. 14.
“This was a very important achievement in my life,” Gowda said. “After coming here with the support of my family and UALR professors Dr. Hollis Bray, Dr. Jim Carr, and Dr. James Tramel, I feel like all my dreams are coming to reality.”
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University in India, Gowda entered the construction management master’s program during the fall 2015 semester.
He began his research as a way to solve a problem in the global construction industry. River sand is a key ingredient in concrete, but sand is not readily available in many parts of the world. Gowda proposed a way to substitute sand with the crushed stone dust from quarries and fly ash.
“My research is focused on strength analysis of aerated cellular concrete by replacing sand with quarry dust, a kind of waste dust that is generated by the stone crushing industry, without compromising strength and durability,” he said.
Using quarry dust and fly ash as a substitute for sand provides an environmentally friendly alternative for quarry dust, which often takes up large amounts of space in landfills. Since the amount of river sand is decreasing every day, Gowda’s research also offers the construction industry a cheaper and plentiful alternative to sand.
Gowda is thankful to his family for sending him to America to study, which gave him the opportunity to work with dedicated professors who are helping him with his research.
“I would like to thank my parents for sending me all the way from India and for believing in my potential,” he said. “Here, I am very blessed with my professors in our department. They guide me, and it is a very good place where you can learn things to fill your thirst of knowledge.”
Dr. Hollis Bray, a professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering who helped Gowda with his paper, said Karthik’s research has potential to open up a new market in the construction industry.
“Karthik is an impressive and very enthusiastic young man,” Bray said. “I supported Karthik in his research, because I think something could happen here. We won’t run out of sand, but we are starting to worry more about environmental consequences. Folks in the industry are always interested in anything that will create a market in the industry.”
In addition to looking for funding to implement his current concrete research, Gowda is also working to open a student chapter of theArkansas Chapter of ACI at UALR, which would bring additional funding opportunities for student researchers on campus.
After he graduates from UALR in 2017, Gowda plans to pursue a doctorate in concrete and environmental engineering and then work as a research scientist to gain insights into the dynamics of global construction world.