The Infrastructure Design Environment and Sustainability (IDEAS) Center works to develop a sustainable infrastructure and environment by creating dynamic research collaborations among students, faculty and staff at numerous institutions, regional agencies and the private sector. Its focus areas are safe and sustainable transportation, materials for sustainable infrastructure, and environment and water quality.
During the past year, IDEAS worked to increase its research presence in transportation, which is a major issue for the urban infrastructure and urban sustainability of the Charlotte region. Transportation research is a multidisciplinary effort that includes Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Technology, Geography and Earth Science, and the UNC Charlotte Center for Transportation Studies.
IDEAS researchers were very successful in winning a number of NCDOT grants in the past two years. Examples of some of the work include a collaborative project with UNC-Asheville related to safety issues involving travel in fog. Research also began in collaboration with Motorsports on the impact of autonomous vehicles (driverless cars) to help identify safety issues and measure the response impact of other drivers. A number of new proposal with consortiums of other universities have been submitted to NCDOT.
Working with EPIC and the ECE Department, IDEAS began a study on rail transportation with the Charlotte Area Transportation System.
On the academic side, IDEAS helped develop new undergraduate concentrations within Civil and Environmental Engineering in the fields of Transportation, and Environmental/Water Resources Engineering. A new Civil Engineering course was created in rail transportation engineering, and a new course in Systems Engineering in planning and design for airport systems.
Materials research within IDEAS included NCDOT road surface projects related to the durability and service life of road materials, optimizing materials and mixture designs, using recycled and waste materials in concrete, enhancing performance of concrete infrastructure, and quality assurance for concrete construction.
In the environmental and water areas, IDEAS researchers demonstrated that treatments used to clean wastewater may actually be creating new antibiotics and further contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance in the environment. Research is now being done with one specific antibiotic that is similar in composition to a larger class, to determine how it responds to water treatment processes.
Other IDEAS researchers are looking at biological contaminants in water and wastewater, microbial water quality and public health issues, antibiotic resistance in water and soil environments, and the interfaces of water and health in developing and developed countries.