CTIS Facilities


El Paso is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S.-Mexican border with Mexican-American forming majority of the population. UTEP has an enrollment of 21,000 students, 72% of them are Hispanic. UTEP ranks among the top 3 universities in the nation in educating Hispanics, according to Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. The College of Engineering is ranked the nation’s top graduate engineering programs for Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine. The College offers 6 bachelor's degrees, 13 master’s-level programs and 6 doctorate programs. UTEP ranks among the top three University of Texas academic institution in research spending. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UTEP as a doctoral/research intensive university. The National Science Foundation designated UTEP as a Model Institution for Excellence, one of only six in the country. In UTEP, undergraduate students participate in hands-on research, working with graduate, PhD, faculty and industry at a professional level unheard of at other universities.

The Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CTIS) at UTEP is internationally known as a center of excellence in nondestructive testing of transportation infrastructure. CTIS is a member of Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Technology Consortium a Tier USDOT University of Transportation Center. The annual operating budget of the Center is over $2 million. As such, it is well-staffed to carry out the technical duties of this project. CTIS has extensive field and lab facilities that will be used for the execution of this project. Tables 3 through 6 provide a listing of the equipment and test devices at the CTIS facility.

Material Testing

CTIS is equipped with the state-of-the-art apparatus for conventional and advance testing of pavement materials. Most of the laboratory apparatus have been replaced or acquired in the last ten years. In September 2007, CTIS laboratory relocated to a new facility with equipped with another $0.5 million of advanced testing capabilities.

Soils and Aggregate Testing

The soil and aggregate lab is equipped with all traditional equipment for characterizing the aggregates and index tests. One MTS system is dedicated to conducting resilient modulus and permanent deformation tests as per AASHTO T-307 on bases and subgrades. The system is equipped with the latest fully-automated software for data collection and analysis.

In addition, two computer-controlled systems for conducting strength tests such as triaxial and unconfined compressive strengths, a computer-controlled direct shear tests and two computer-controlled devices for consolidation tests are available. Advanced nondestructive testing devices such as bender elements and resonant column for modulus, dielectric constant probes for moisture susceptibility are available.

Asphalt Binder and Mix Testing

In the asphalt lab, all traditional and AASHTO binder testing equipment are available. Testing facilities for asphalt binder include: dynamic shear rheometer for characterization of asphalt binder at high and intermediate temperatures, bending beam rheometer to measure the low temperature properties of asphalt binder, rolling thin film oven and pressure aging vessel to simulate aging of asphalt binders, high speed centrifuge for asphalt extraction, Rotovapor for asphalt recovery, and rotational viscometers for viscosity measurements.

Asphalt mixture characterization facilities include: an MTS system placed in a walk-in temperature control room used for strength and modulus tests of hot mix, including all simple-performance tests and diameter resilient modulus, a Hamburg wheel tracking device, an Overlay Tester (OT), beam fatigue test device and Moisture Induced Stress Tester (MIST), Corelok for density measurements, Ignition oven for asphalt content measurements are also available.

Field Testing

UTEP has the expertise and/or equipment to conduct comprehensive functional and structural evaluation of pavement in the field. The areas of expertise include

A large number of nondestructive testing devices are available at CTIS. These include:

Computational and Modeling Facility

Several software packages, acquired commercially or developed in house, are available for 2-D and 3-D visualization of NDT results, data fusion or integrating data analyses from different NDT devices, and advanced data analysis. A wealth of general-purpose software packages for finite element (e.g. LSDYNA, NASTRAN, and ANSYS), finite difference (e.g. FLAC3D and WAVE2000), and discrete element (e.g. PFC2D and 3D) modeling is available at UTEP. Any of these software packages can be utilized for simulation needs of this research at no additional charge to this project. Sophisticated numerical models have already been developed to simulate seismic/sonic tests, deflection, impulse and vibration techniques as well as electromagnetic methods listed in Table 3.1. These models can be easily modified and used for the purpose of this project. For very sophisticated simulations and computations, a 128-cluster parallel-processing computer is available to the researchers which can reduce the run time of these models by a factor of 100 relative to the advanced PCs.

Mechanical Fabrication

The College of Engineering maintains a full-service machine shop, staffed with highly-qualified machinists for traditional and computer-assisted precision machining and fabrication.

Electronic and Instrumentation Facility

CTIS is fully equipped with an electronic shop that can prototype and develop sophisticated circuit boards and hardware. In addition, a large number of vibration, displacement and sensors and data acquisition and control software and hardware are available to be used on this project.