Civil graduate student wins first place in challenge at ICMPA9

Z-Siab 1Salar Zabihi-Siabil, a graduate student in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, won first place in the Young Professionals and Students Pavement Challenge at the 9th International Conference on Managing Pavement Assets (ICMPA9) held in Washington, D.C., May 18-21.

The research, “Detecting Potential Errors in Pavement Condition Data,” was a collaboration between Zabihi-Siabil and Siamak Saliminejad, a former Ph.D. student of Dr. Nasir Gharaibeh at Texas A&M. Gharaibeh, an associate professor in the civil engineering department, served as faculty adviser. Saliminejad graduated with a Ph.D. in civil engineering in 2012 and now works as a consultant at AgileAssets.

Controlling the quality of infrastructure condition and monitoring data is a real challenge faced by transportation agencies. This is further complicated by the evolution of data collection and reporting methods over time, and by the periodic replacement of equipment over time.

The challenge was to assess and improve the quality and continuity of pavement management data by applying new or existing techniques to a data set provided. To meet the challenge, applicants were encouraged to be innovative, but needed to at least address the quality of the provided data set, identify and impute missing data values, errors and outliers, demonstrate a quality control or data acceptance methodology, assess consistency between pavement work history and historical performance, and develop ways to visualize this data set.

In his Ph.D. research, Zabihi-Siabil is developing computerized methods for detecting errors in large sets of infrastructure condition data. His dissertation research focuses on infrastructure management and pavement management systems, and improving the quality of pavement condition data. He has worked with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute as a graduate research assistant since 2011.