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October 22, 2007

Purdue Web site aids construction engineers in emerging technologies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University Web site that provides expert advice in emerging construction technologies for professional engineers is back by popular demand after taking a hiatus since January.

The site helps engineers specializing in construction issues by providing free fact sheets in cutting-edge technologies that range from environmentally friendly elevators to corrosion-resistant bridge decks, and innovative pothole repair to video surveillance.

"This is an important public service for engineers that's not being fulfilled by any other Web site," said Makarand Hastak, a professor of civil engineering and head of Purdue's Division of Construction Engineering & Management. "The site presents information about emerging construction technologies that could have a high impact on the construction industry."

Engineers can access the site, called Emerging Construction Technologies, at http://www.ect-purdue.org.

The site originally was developed at Purdue in 1998 as part of a research project funded by the Construction Industry Institute. Members of the organization, which include large construction companies and multinational corporations, conducted a research project and determined that the Web site was needed.

"These are the movers and shakers of the construction industry," Hastak said.

The site's operation was funded by the organization, and its design and maintenance were led by civil engineering professor Daniel Halpin, former head of Construction Engineering & Management, who retired in January 2006. Funding from the Construction Industry Institute ended when Halpin retired.

"We left the site up for a while afterward," Hastak said. "But we didn't want to leave it unattended too long, so it was best to pull it down for maintenance. The site has been shut down since January 2007, and we have been bombarded with phone calls and e-mails as to what happened to it."

The Web site is being relaunched this Friday (Oct. 26) and catalogues more than 300 emerging technologies, divided into five areas: civil, mechanical, Internet-based, electrical and other.

"CII is pleased that Purdue has chosen to continue the Emerging Construction Technologies Web site after completion of the original research, which started in 1998," said Wayne A. Crew, executive director of the Construction Industry Institute. "The ECT is a significant contribution to the industry, a valuable resource for all."

Over the years, the site has enjoyed popular success among construction engineers.

"The site has grown to more than 300 fact sheets," Hastak said. "Each fact sheet identifies the technology, how it can be used, what its benefits are to industry and so on. It has always attracted a tremendous number of hits. For example, in April 2004 we had about 36,000 requests for information from 10,000 different users, and in March of that year there were 37,781 requests from about 11,000 users. We had been consistently getting a large number of hits. And that is really why we decided to resume the service."

Purdue civil engineering graduate students prepare the fact sheets, which are reviewed by an expert in the field.

"Then we put that sheet on the Web site and the expert is listed at the bottom as a contact," Hastak said.

Hastak said Purdue might conduct a fund drive later this year to raise money to support the site.

"It's a valuable nonprofit service that we want to continue to offer," he said.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue..edu

Source: Makarand Hastak, (765) 494-0641, hastak@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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