Investigator Spotlight: Souhail Elhouar

Souhail Elhouar, associate professor of civil engineering and construction at Bradley University, Peoria, is principal investigator on an ICT/IDOT project, Performance Evaluation of Snow and Ice Plows (R27-094). The purpose of the study is to evaluate the performance of snow and ice plows in order to allow IDOT to enhance and optimize plowing operations. The project includes preparing a synthesis of best practices in snow and ice plowing operations, developing a procedure to evaluate plow and blade performance, instrumenting a snow plow, conducting field tests on interstate highways and secondary roads, and developing a comprehensive performance database.

The project is led by Tim Peters, IDOT Maintenance Engineer, as chair of the Technical Review Panel.

Other members of the research team include co-principal investigators Yasser Khodair and Yoon-Si Lee and graduate research assistant Drew Dragoo, all from Bradley University. A number of other Bradley graduate and undergraduate students have also contributed to the project.

Elhouar says that the research team has investigated pre-treatment, plowing, roadway maintenance, and administrative and managerial techniques used in winter road-clearing operations.  In addition, they studied the conditions of applicability of the various methods and identified best practices based on safety, practical, economical, and environmental considerations.

“We also examined emerging technologies in snow and ice control operations and presented several recommendations on how technology can be economically integrated into current practice,” he adds. The recommendations will help IDOT winter operations personnel make better decisions about the most efficient types of plows and blades to use in any given situation. The report and recommendations are expected to be available before the winter 2014–15 season begins.

This project is the first that Elhouar has undertaken on behalf of ICT/IDOT. His other research interests include the design and implementation of artificial intelligence applications in structural engineering, the study of connection design methodologies, analysis of the behavior of composite members, and the study of structural steel systems and components through the use of advanced computer modeling techniques.

Elhouar was the recipient of Bradley University’s 2013 Francis C. Mergen Memorial Award for Public Service in recognition of his service to the university and community at large. He also received his department’s Outstanding Faculty Award for 2014.