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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - January/February 2005

January/February 2005
Issue No:
Vol. 68 No. 4
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Training Update

New Course Explores Geotechnical Aspects Of Pavement Design

The National Highway Institute (NHI)

Within each State department of transportation (DOT), engineering professionals are involved in the process of defining, designing, and verifying the geomaterials used in pavement construction. Specification writers, pavement designers, and roadway, geotechnical, and construction engineers need to understand the geotechnical aspects of pavements and work closely to build and maintain cost-effective roadways. In addition to being familiar with sophisticated design models that rely on skillful characterizations of geotechnical variables, these professionals also need to be familiar with the latest advanced techniques, such as new procedures for conducting subsurface explorations and real-time evaluations of pavement layers as they are constructed.

To help engineers, specification writers, and others learn about these tools, and to facilitate interaction among the various disciplines involved in pavement design, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National Highway Institute (NHI) is offering a course titled Geotechnical Aspects of Pavements (#132040A). The course is the first offered by NHI that focuses on geotechnical variables and their influence on pavement design and performance.

NHI's new course on the geotechnical aspects of pavement design will help transportation specialists avoid road collapses like this one caused by problems in the subgrade.

FHWA-approved instructors will present the 3-day interactive course using a number of visual aids, including computer-generated slides, overhead transparencies, flip charts, and whiteboards. Each attendee will receive a copy of the course's first-of-its-kind reference manual, which serves as a comprehensive source of information on the geotechnical aspects of pavements. The class also provides a training environment in which professionals with the responsibility for designing pavements can learn and share experiences in a common setting.

After completing the course, participants will have a better understanding of the geotechnical parameters related to pavement design and construction and the impacts of unsuitable subgrades, climate, moisture, and drainage on performance. In addition, they will know how to determine the geotechnical inputs for pavement design and construction and how to evaluate and select appropriate remediation measures for unsuitable subgrades. Participants also will learn how to apply geotechnical considerations to pavement specifications and inspection requirements.

“This course will help State DOTs apply state-of-the-art tools for assessing the geotechnical aspects of pavements in the planning, design, construction, repair, and maintenance phases of highway projects,” says Sam Mansukhani, a geotechnical engineer with the FHWA Resource Center at Olympia Fields, IL. “It will improve design and construction quality, increase safety, and reduce the cost of highway projects.”

Although the course has no prerequisites, an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, geology, or equivalent engineering experience in the field of highway transportation is desirable.

For more information, contact Sam Mansukhani at 708–283–3550, or Jerry DiMaggio, P.E., at 202–366–1569, To schedule a course, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at 703–235–0527 or e-mail To obtain information about NHI courses, access the course catalog at or contact NHI at 4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA, 22203; 703–235–0500 (phone); or 703–235–0593 (fax).