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Inventor Spotlight: Dr. M. Emin Kutay

By Kara Headley

Michigan roads are in need of repair, and Dr. M. Emin Kutay is looking for the solution with his research in pavement technology.

Kutay, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, researches ways to enhance pavement technology to extend the durability and longevity of roads. He and his team have developed a software that simulates the movement of trucks on the road and calculates how long that road will last.

This software enables engineers to optimize the type and properties of pavements that would last the longest depending on the location of the road. Many factors are taken into account, such as climate, amount of traffic and thickness of pavement, and more. In just five minutes, the program can simulate 20 years of wear and tear on a pavement.

“The software gives you the actual damage that is accumulated,” Kutay said. “Engineers can use this information to design the roads. They can select the correct material that is optimal for the road.” 

This new technology can revolutionize the way engineers develop pavement. In the past 50 years, the types of trucks on the roads and the routes they take have drastically changed. The technology used to build roads must evolve as well.

“With this software, you can actually design your materials to target the type of distress the roads will face directly,” Kutay said. “For Michigan, when we design new roads with this software, we can know with pretty good accuracy how long it’s going to last.”

The MSU Innovation Center helped Kutay develop the prototype of his design and turn it into a marketable product.

“For the last several years, the Innovation Center has helped me and my lab significantly in many ways, especially on this project,” Kutay said.