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Russ College, senator

Senator Tim Schaffer sits in the cockpit of the Avionics Engineering Center's DC-3

Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology

Russ College aviation monitor

Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin shows Senator Tim Schaffer the Avionics Engineering Center’s real-time flight test visualization system

Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology

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State senator and aviation reps visit Russ College facilities


Ohio Sen. Tim Schaffer (R–31) was among a group of government and industry representatives who got a firsthand look last week at how OHIO researchers are having an impact on national initiatives in road and air safety.

On Oct. 23, the group toured several of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology's facilities: the Accelerated Pavement Load Facility (APLF) at the Ohio University-Lancaster campus, and the Avionics Engineering Center at the Ohio University Airport near Albany.

The APLF is part of the Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment, which takes a multidisciplinary approach to solving environmental and transportation problems.

An indoor pavement test facility with full environmental control, the APLF features a full-scale two-lane test road that can be built from the soil layer up – inside the building – under controlled temperature, humidity and moisture. Researchers can test road materials and construction techniques on a small scale with a full-width installation under extreme conditions, without having to risk building an actual road open to actual traffic.

"Other facilities of this type are largely located on an outdoor track and cannot control climate conditions as we can in the APLF," explained Gayle Mitchell, ORITE director and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. "Because of climate change, it is important to have this facility to model the pavement design concept."

Schaffer was impressed by the demonstration of simulated traffic loading on a warm mix asphalt pavement under high temperature.

"I believe [the center's research] has remarkable potential for saving taxpayer money, especially if they reach the point of perpetual pavement," said Schaffer, whose district includes all of Licking, Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties, as well as parts of Ross County. "That would be a revolutionary road-building component."

At the Ohio University Airport, Schaffer and a group of Licking County officials and aviation industry representatives learned about research conducted by the Avionics Engineering Center on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration and private sponsors.

The group viewed the Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) data collection equipment installed in the Avionics Engineering Center's King Air aircraft and observed a live demonstration of ADS-B benefits and capabilities. Aircraft equipped with ADS-B are able to broadcast real-time positions using GPS to help increase accuracy and flying safety. Center pilots and researchers are analyzing ADS-B ground network coverage to ensure air traffic controllers have a complete and accurate view of ADS-B equipped aircraft for NextGen -- the FAA's comprehensive overhaul of the National Airspace System.

The demonstrations were an eye-opener for Mark Miklos, chief engineer with Boeing's Guidance Repair Center.

"We didn't know the breadth and depth of the operation down here, or how much OHIO was involved with the FAA," he said.

He expressed hope that the visit would lead to collaboration between the center and aerospace companies with research and manufacturing operations at the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center, a research and technology park located on the former Newark Air Force Base.

That's also the hope of Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin, who was pleased to show off his researchers' work to such a distinguished audience.

"It's always great to have an opportunity to demonstrate to our state officials what good stewards of state resources we are, and to share examples of how our work contributes to the well being of the state of Ohio and the nation," Irwin said.