Student researchers at The University of Texas at Tyler will help pave the way in the development of future Texas highways.
With a Texas Department of Transportation research grant, assistant professor of civil engineering Dr. Mena Souliman will lead the university’s research team that will analyze TxDOT’s current aggregate classification system that is used when creating various asphalt mixes. They will collaborate with Texas Transportation Institute researchers on the two-year project.
Graduate civil engineering students Pedro Zavagna of Brazil and Prajwol Sharma of Nepal will provide the fundamental laboratory and field performance data required to present guidelines for the enhancement of the Texas screening/selection criteria.
“This project is very important because it relates to re-classifying the current pavement aggregates used in Texas highways,” Zavagna said. “Since the best quality aggregate in the current classification is getting scarce, there is a need to find other aggregate types that can be used in order to maintain the excellent pavement quality in the state.”
The long-term goal is to revise and possibly replace the existing system with a more resourceful one while maintaining that quality.
“Once the system is revised or replaced, a benefit will be the reduced negative impacts to the environment that results from the long-distance transportation of the scarce aggregates. Reduced negative impacts include less energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions,” Souliman said.
A 2016 undergraduate alumnus, Zavagna said he is excited to work along his faculty mentor and have the opportunity to conduct meaningful research at The University of Texas at Tyler.

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“I started working with Dr. Souliman three years ago, when he started to work on developing a bike lane map for the City of Tyler,” said Zavagna, who completed his bachelor’s degree last May at The University of Texas at Tyler. “Since then I used the opportunity to join the transportation research team in order to increase my knowledge in the transportation area, learning directly from an expert in the subject such as Dr. Souliman.”
The team anticipates submitting their data and recommendations to TxDOT by September 2019.
For more information about the project, contact Souliman, 903.565.5892 or msouliman@uttyler.edu.