Robert Bailey Wins IAPA Research Award

Retired Materials Engineer Robert Bailey is being recognized for his more than four decades of service to the transportation industry as well as for developing an industry-changing tool that bears his name.

Bailey received the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association (IAPA) Research Award at the 58th Annual Illinois Bituminous Paving Conference on December 12th, 2017, at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Illinois. “That was a great feeling. It’s always good to know that something you’ve accomplished has been recognized. I really enjoyed that,” Bailey said. 

Robert Bailey

Bailey worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) from 1961 until 1997, except for a few years when he served his country in the U.S. Army. His career achievements include the design, production, and placement of Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) mixtures during the Interstate construction era and improving hot-mix asphalt (HMA) performance to mitigate a rutting problem occurring across Illinois in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Perhaps most notable, Bailey is the man behind The Bailey Method, a systematical way of developing and controlling aggregate blends.

“This was all in my personal computer and my head most of the time,” Bailey said.


IAPA Executive VP Kevin Burke presents Robert Bailey with Bituminous Achievement Award.

Still, before long The Bailey Method made its rounds, helping industry and agency representatives better understand HMA. It is now being used by contractors around the world to improve their ability of meeting specifications while preparing for future challenges.

“The opportunity was there,” Bailey said.

Research engineer Bill Pine was responsible for Bailey’s nomination. He says he wanted to recognize Bailey for improving HMA not only here in Illinois but around the U.S. and abroad as well.

“Bob worked to provide Illinois citizens with the most cost effective product our suppliers, producers, and contractors could provide, while searching for ways to improve pavement performance,” Pine said. “He worked on theories in the lab and then took them to the field for validation.  He mentored many engineers and technicians throughout his career in the area of materials, which helped them do their jobs better, myself being one of those individuals.”

Robert Bailey receives Bituminous Achievement Award.

Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) Sustainability Implementation Engineer David Lippert worked with Bailey at IDOT for more than a decade. He says Bailey was well respected and always had his facts straight.

“When Bob spoke everyone listened,” Lippert said. “The Bailey Method really raised the understanding of mixes in Illinois and nationally.”

Imad Al-Qadi, Bliss Professor of Engineering and ICT director, noted, “I feel proud when during travel I meet engineers from all over the world using The Bailey Method. Bob is very humble and this award is way overdue. Every year I invite Bill Pine, Bob’s protégé, to teach two full-day weekends of Bob’s method to our graduate students. This reflects the importance of his technique.”

Bailey has now been retired for 20 years. At 80 years old he spends his time with family and friends, working on Habitat for Humanity houses, golfing, and shooting sporting clays.

“I grew up working on a farm. I didn’t get to play as a kid. So I’m going to play during retirement,” Bailey said.