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UNL to assist Republic of Korea with bridge research

Lincoln, Neb.,

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers will begin a five-year initiative to modernize bridges in the Republic of Korea, which is expected to invest $100 million to update its transportation infrastructure.

A consortium of industry, government and universities will develop a plan and conduct research for the Korean project. The National Bridge Research Organization, a division of UNL’s Department of Civil Engineering, will be the liaison between U.S. and Korean researchers. Atorod Azizinamini, director of NaBRO and professor of civil engineering, will lead the project.

“The Republic of Korea sees UNL as the authority on bridge engineering, and as a result, they want to work with us,” Azizinamini said.

In the past decade, UNL researchers have developed several new bridge technologies, including the NU I-Girder, a system for bridges with long spans and shallow depths that makes construction faster and more economical, and the NUDECK, a system that makes construction faster and increases a bridge deck’s lifespan.

Representatives from the Korean Research Institute of Steel Technology will visit UNL June 11-13. RIST is the research division of POSCO, the largest steel producer in Korea and the fifth largest in the world. The group will learn about bridge technology developed at the university, visit with engineers at the Nebraska Department of Roads and tour architecture, engineering and consulting firms Olsson Associates in Lincoln and HDR Inc. in Omaha.

“Visiting local engineering firms hopefully will benefit Nebraska in a very positive way,” Azizinamini said. “This is a good example of how research at UNL helps industry across the state.”

The UNL College of Engineering, the Department of Civil Engineering and NaBRO are hosting the visit, which will conclude with Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Vice Chancellor for Research Prem Paul and RIST officials signing a contract for the first year of the five-year initiative. The signing ceremony is June 13 at 11 a.m. in the Wick Alumni Center, 1520 R St., in Lincoln.

Azizinamini said the initiative would give UNL international exposure for its bridge technology and showcase unique bridges in Nebraska. The nation’s first bridges made from high-performance steel are in Grand Island, Snyder and Omaha. Much of the groundbreaking research on high-performance steel was the result of collaboration among UNL, Nebraska Department of Roads and the Federal Highway Administration, he said.

“These activities are the reason why the Republic of Korea selected UNL to be its U.S. partner,” Azizinamini said. “Our selection was not a coincidence.”

The NaBRO research team will include faculty from University of California, San Diego; Purdue University, University of Missouri-Rolla and University of Michigan.

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