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Civil and Environmental Engineering Research

Geotechnical and Transportation Engineering

Geotechnical and transportation engineering research at Washington State University merges geotechnics and pavement mechanics to provide solutions to infrastructure problems.

The geotechnical engineering research program encompasses both traditional and emerging topics in the fields of geomechanics and geology and focuses on the behavior of natural materials in engineered systems. This active program involves fundamental and applied research using analytical, numerical, and experimental methods.

The pavement engineering research program focuses on developing innovative, economical, and reliable technologies for highway and airport pavements. It involves characterizing and modeling the entire pavement structure from surface to base course and incorporating various paving materials including asphalt material, concrete material, aggregates, recycled materials, and subgrade soils. Emphasis is given to both fundamental theories and practical applications in design, construction, and rehabilitation of the transportation infrastructure.

Geotechnical and transportation engineering research programs have been supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, US Geological Survey, US Department of Transportation (DOT), Washington State DOT, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), US Department of Energy, and private industries.

Research areas include:

  • Microstructure characterization and modeling of geomaterials
  • X-ray computed tomography (WACXIT)
  • Constitutive and micromechanical modeling
  • Natural and man-made hazard mitigation
  • Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
  • Sustainable materials and construction
  • Characterization and modeling of paving materials
  • Pavement design and structural analysis
  • Pavement evaluation and rehabilitation
  • Engineering Education


The Geotechnical and Transportation Engineering laboratories include state-of-the-art testing equipment for soils and concretes. The Geotechnical Lab includes consolidometers, triaxial, direct shear and resonant column apparatuses. The Washington Center for Asphalt Technology (WCAT) includes facilities for the characterization of asphalt cements and concretes. In addition, a mobile drill rig is available for obtaining in-situ samples. Geotechnical and pavement researchers have access to the Washington Center for X-ray and Imaging Technology (WACXIT) that provides a unique facility for the non-destructive three-dimensional visualization of microstructural features within the interior of opaque solids.

Affiliated Centers, Institutes, and Labs

Washington Center for Asphalt Technology (WCAT)

Developing innovative, economical, and reliable technologies for highway and airport pavements

Washington Center for X-ray and Imaging Technology (WACXIT)

Promotes the advanced microstructure characterization, simulation, and design of solids, including metals, ceramics, geological, and biomaterials


Amarasiri, 335-6411
Hajbabaie, 335-7805
Muhunthan, Balasingam
Department Chair
Director of TRAC, WACXIT, WCAT 335-9578
Nassiri, 335-7455
Shi, 335-7088
Wen, 335-2513