Construction Management professor earns Thomas C. Keefer Medal for safety research

Yi Jiang, professor of construction management technology, and his colleagues earned the Thomas C. Keefer Award. (Photo provided)

The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) honored Yi Jiang with the 2023 Thomas C. Keefer Medal, celebrating his impactful research in the field. Jiang, professor of construction management technology in Purdue University’s Polytechnic college, collaborated to write a deep dive into how road surface conditions relate to the outcomes of traffic incidents, advocating for the use of refined data analysis to improve safety on the roads.

The Thomas C. Keefer Medal, named to honor a founding figure in civil engineering, is an annual award to recognize excellence in hydrotechnical, transportation, or environmental engineering works.

The research presented in “Exploring Implicit Relationships between Pavement Surface Friction and Vehicle Crash Severity Using Interpretable Extreme Gradient Boosting Method,” coauthored by Guangyuan Zhao, Shuo Li, and Susan Tighe, has implications in civil engineering as well. Collaborative, cross-disciplinary research is a stated priority of Purdue Polytechnic since the opening of the multi-collegiate Dudley and Lambertus Halls earlier this year.

Findings from Jiang and his team are especially significant in areas of low pavement friction, highlighting specific friction levels that warrant further review and immediate action to upgrade road safety standards.

“Receiving this award underscores the practical relevance of our findings to the domain of highway safety and encourages the application of such research in policymaking and infrastructure maintenance,” said Jiang.

Yi Jiang and colleagues were recognized at the 2023 ACE Gala (Photo provided)

Echoing the principles of Thomas Keefer, known for his dedication to enhancing public works, Jiang expressed, “Our work continues Keefer's legacy—advancing the essential infrastructure that supports our daily lives.”

Reflecting on the implications of Jiang’s research, Daniel Castro, dean of Purdue Polytechnic noted, “The collaborative and interdisciplinary research led by Professor Jiang is reflective of the dynamic educational philosophy we endorse, blending cutting-edge technology with core engineering disciplines.”

Baijian “Justin” Yang, Purdue Polytechnic’s associate dean for research, pointed out the methodological innovation in the study.

“Employing machine learning techniques such as XGBoost in conjunction with SHAP values,” Yang said, “demonstrates the robust analytical capabilities that our college is known for.”

Jiang hopes additional research will lead to greater understanding of the impact of different pavement materials on friction and consequent safety implications for various roadway designs.

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