News @ the Beach

Cal State Long Beach Faculty Member Researching How to Make Highways Better

Shadi Saadeh, assistant professor of civil engineering and construction engineering management at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) is conducting research on how to predict materials response which will help Southern California highways better resist burning heat and crushing loads.

He is an expert on highways and the materials that compose them and recently published an article on discrete element modeling and for the prestigious Journal of the Transportation Research Board. His research concluded that the discrete modeling system is a valid way to simulate the response of a freeway’s asphalt concrete material.


“This modeling system is useful for any city, county or state that wants to pave a road,” he explained. “Any of these would like to know how long the road will last and what kind of stresses it will encounter. The article presents a quality control test for hot mix asphalt. The discrete element modeling is used to simulate the test,” he said. “Those materials have changed a lot in 2,000 years.”

Asphalt mixtures can be as simple as mixing binder with aggregates but, today, something new has been added.

“It is now possible to add recyclable materials such as rubber to pavement,” he explained. “There are many ways to recycle the tens of millions of tires sold every year. One way to do that is to put the tires back into the road.”

More changes are due, including additives that help tomorrow’s pavements better resist the heat.

“What we want to do is to develop new tests to better understand tomorrow’s pavements,” he said. “For instance, additives are used now to produce warm mix asphalt at lower temperatures compared to the conventional hot mix asphalt. We, as a nation, must pay attention to our infrastructure,” he said. “The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded America’s infrastructure with a ‘D’ and we must allocate a bigger portion of our budgets to change that.”

He suggests that state universities have a role to play.

“A life cycle cost analysis can estimate how long pavement will last,” he said. “I work with faculty members at Chico State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to help Caltrans at every level to test new technologies for pavement. Sometimes we offer training. This is what state universities have to offer.”

Saadeh’s research not only strengthens roads but he uses it to teach Cal State Long Beach engineering students about the latest developments.

“I discuss my research with my undergraduates and graduates all the time,” he recalled. “When the California Asphalt Pavement Association hosts conferences, I attend along with students from undergraduate and graduate classes as we did this April in Ontario.”

His hot mix course is unique in the CSU.

“This gives our students an experience that can lead to such achievements as the presentation by one of my graduate students before the Association of Asphalt Pavement Technologists,” he said. “I want to make pavement stronger and longer-lasting. No one would expect a 20-year-old car to perform like new. Why should we expect 20-year-old pavement to be any different? We have to pay more political attention to our roads.”

Saadeh worked for the Texas Transportation Institute and the Louisiana Transportation Research Center before joining CSULB in 2007. He received his bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Jordan in 1997, his master in civil engineering from Washington State University in 2002 and his doctorate in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 2005.

Saadeh plans to continue his highway research.

“I’m working with a colleague in chemical engineering to determine the value of adding titanium dioxide to pavements to help them react better to pollutants coming from vehicles,” he said. “How can we streamline that and how we make tomorrow’s roads while contributing to a clean environment?”

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Cal State Long Beach Faculty Member Using Part of $250,000 Grant to Study Area Port Noise Pollution

Because area ports are so essential to the regional economy, I-Hung Khoo, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), felt it was very important to map the area ports for noise pollution.


In 2011, the Center for Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies at CSULB awarded $250,000 to support 14 interdisciplinary faculty projects focused on research on the maritime environment of the San Pedro Bay ports. Khoo received part of that funding to work with Tang-Hung Nguyen, a member of the civil engineering and construction engineering department at CSULB, to create an automated port noise and activity monitoring system. This is an extension of the research Khoo and Nguyen have been working on to create noise maps for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. They have received a total of $180,000 in funding from METRANS for the research.

“All kinds of places are measured for noise such as airports and freeways but no one measured noise levels at the Port of Long Beach extensively, let alone map them, until we did,” said Khoo. “Our goal was to understand the impact of noise on the Port of Long Beach. Up to now, pollution concerns at the port have focused on exhaust but noise is as much a pollutant as truck emissions. Since the campus is so close to the Port of Long Beach, it seemed urgent to begin.”

The key to noise mapping is its visual display of noise levels. To generate the noise map a computer noise model of the port was created that included the terrain and all pertinent sources of noise.

“In this way, it is possible to see the exact location of noise pollution,” said Khoo. “We wanted data about trucks, trains and cargo handling equipment activity. The result was not only a noise map of the Port of Long Beach but a map of specific sources of noise and an analysis of noise variations.”

Noise from various transportation modes including sea ports has become a major concern for environmental and government agencies in recent years, especially since the LA-Long Beach port complex is the gateway to the Pacific Rim which makes them the nation’s largest ocean freight hub and its busiest container port complex.

“As the container sector of the Port of Long Beach has the highest potential for growth, the levels of noise generated by cargo transportation and handling activities are especially of interest,” explained Khoo. “The objective of our research, therefore, was to determine, using noise mapping, the level of noise generated by the cargo handling and transport activities at the container terminals of the Port of Long Beach. The benefits of noise mapping include the evaluation of noise impacts, the identification of noise hot spots, the development of noise reduction measures and the prediction of what noise impact there will be on new and future development.”

The study concluded that the highest contributions of noise came from trucks followed by cargo-handling activities. The contribution of railroads was not considered to be significant. The noise of container trucks traffic on the roads was deemed to be within the Caltrans/FHWA limit of 71 dB for developed land 500 feet from the roads and not counting the freeways. Noise from cargo-handling activities was well below the accepted level of 75 dB at a distance of 50 feet as stipulated by the L.A. municipal code for industrial equipment.

Sensitive areas included the non-industrial area east of the L.A. River and the Queen Mary, both of which were found to be within the Community Noise Exposure guidelines of the L.A. Municipal Code. The noise variation was at its highest at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. but lowest at noon. The noise was higher on the weekdays than on the weekends. As far as monthly noise, it peaked in January and dropped to a minimum in March before rising steadily again.

“One look and the user sees the major noise contribution comes from the trucks. They have so many going in and out. The trains may be noisy but they don’t operate all the time. If they want to reduce noise, they should focus on the trucks.” said Khoo. “It can be used to predict changes in the future. Say you want to pave a new road or build a new container terminal. They can be drawn into the noise model with a description of the amount of traffic to see the effect it would have. How will these changes affect the overall noise? Say noise screening is planned. A noise wall can be drawn on the map and the effect is seen. That is the most powerful part of noise modeling. You can see noise distribution clearly on a noise map. It is both prediction and prevention.”

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Cal State Long Beach Student Teacher Receives 2014 Future Science Teacher Award

The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has honored Cal State Long Beach’s Laurie Gillis with its Future Science Teacher Award. She will receive the award at the annual meeting of members in December in the Long Beach Convention Center during the National Science Teachers Association Long Beach Area Conference on Science Education, which is held in collaboration with the CSTA.


Laurie Gillis

Gillis is the ninth CSULB student to receive the award and it marks the eighth straight year the recipient has come from the campus.

“Laurie Gillis is one of the best student teachers I have had from CSULB,” said Stephanie Bauer, Odyssey Academy Lead Teacher at Lakewood High School. “She is thoughtful in her lesson design and reflective with every aspect of teaching her students.”

The CSTA Future Science Teacher Award recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching and professional organization activities, and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. The CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, kindergarten through university.

“She is open to critical feedback – she solicits it, wants to do well, recognizes herself as a new teacher and never reacts defensively,” said Alan Colburn, a professor in the CSULB Science Education Department. “She is motivated to take advantage of every growth opportunity that comes her way and has already taken advantage of multiple opportunities for professional development. Finally, she is reflective, plans carefully, and tries to think through her lessons and their effects on students.”

As a credential student at CSULB, Gillis proved eager to be involved in activities that supported her growth as a teacher, going above and beyond the credential program’s expectations. And looking forward, she has plans of her own.

“I think the fact that we keep winning this award is because we have strong students who have taken advantage of multiple opportunities to grow and thrive as future teachers,” said CSULB science education professor Laura Henriques. “We strongly encourage professional involvement early on in their careers.”

Gillis, who earned her B.A. degree from Northwestern University, received a single subject credential from CSULB in June.

“Once I am in my own classroom, one of my main goals is to become involved with or establish a program that assists and encourages young ladies to pursue science careers,” said Gillis. “I was well into my post-baccalaureate courses when a female professor was the first person to tell me I was a ‘natural’ at science and encouraged me to pursue it as a career. It practically changed my identity. It helped me see potential in myself that I had never considered and it opened my mind up to career choices I had never entertained before. I want to give that experience to other young ladies. I want to help young women recognize their own potential in science and feel empowered to pursue it beyond high school.”

Previous recipients of the award from CSULB include Genevieve Finch (2005), William M. Berkstresser and Padma Haldar (2007), Caroline Potter (2008), Bernice “Jeanne” Lepowsky (2009), Angela Lewis (2010), Guadalupe de la O (2011), Josiah Jones (2012) and Tania Hughes (2013).

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Father’s Tears Inspire Book

When Cal State Long Beach Professor of Spanish Maria Carreira saw her father’s tears, it inspired her to write a book titled Voces: Latino Students on Life in the United States.

The journey began about 10 years ago when Carreira  had students read the novel Cajas de carton. The novel is about an immigrant family and migrant workers in California decades ago.

Maria Carreira teaching class.

“As we started to talk about it,” said Carreira, who co-authored the book with former student Tom Beeman. “I began to discover that some of my students shared some of the experiences of the characters in the book. When my students would write their reactions to the book I started seeing these amazing stories that they would share with me. I was blown away.”

It was while reading one of those stories to her father where the idea to write a book came from.

“I remember I was reading this story to my dad and he started to cry,” said Carreira. “We started to talk and he said we shouldn’t be the only ones learning from these stories; everyone can learn from them. And it was at that point I began to think this would be a powerful thing to put into a book.”

And so it began, the pulling together of stories that had been written for one of her classes along personal interviews conducted with individuals and families. She also got assistance from colleagues and friends who, knowing the work she was doing, would forward things to her they thought were meaningful experiences and would fit into the book.

In all, Carreira estimates approximately 300 individuals were involved in the project, resulting in the book which will be available beginning Nov. 1. But this is not a book about feeling sorry for people, according to Carreira. On the contrary, it’s a book about resilience and, eventually, triumph.

Carriera book cover

“I didn’t want to make this book about hardships. To be sure, there are plenty of heart wrenching stories,” said Carreira, “but, more than that, I wanted to feature the triumphs of these students who overcame in some cases extreme poverty, in other cases being undocumented, and in other cases separation from family or discrimination. These students, as I discovered in the process of writing this book, have incredible wisdom, strength, powerful live histories and all these things enrich us if we just take a moment to hear them.

“What’s amazing about the youth featured in the book is that they don’t focus on the hardships,” she added, “As they are telling their story they very quickly turn to, ‘This is what I learned from it, this is how I got past it and this is how I reacted to it.’ So that’s where resilience, a topic I come back to many times in the book, comes in. Resilience is the ability to overcome difficult circumstances. These youths exemplify resilience and how to confront adversity with resolve, grace and wisdom.”

Another common thread throughout many of the stories was family, the importance of it and the sacrifices made.

“The family is a central player is many of the stories because many immigrants are poor, they don’t have connections in this country and they don’t know very well how to navigate some of the things in this country,” said Carreira, who noted it’s not just Hispanics, but for all immigrants for which the family is very important—it’s a unit of support because they are isolated in a way.

“It’s rare when an individual can get ahead on their own, so what you have is the strength of the family, where family members help each other. Older siblings take care of the younger siblings while the parents are at work and because of that some of the immigrant children have to grow up very quickly because they don’t have the luxury of an extended childhood. And while having to grow up quickly has its challenges, it also brings growth because it forces immigrant children to take responsibility for their wellbeing and that of others.”

The book also focuses on transformation of lives, not only the students, but their families and communities as well as a result of their success. Many who shared their story talked about how they want to make the lives of others such as themselves better.

“Many of them tell me they want to be teachers because they know what immigrant children go through in a school situation and they want to help those children succeed in school,” said Carreira. “Others want to be social workers, others want to be lawyers, but there is a common theme—they want to contribute, they want to give back.”

And while absorbing these stories for a decade and then going through the process of writing this book, Carreira herself could not help but learn more deeply about her students’ lives.

“I had been teaching these students many, many years and I thought I understood them, but this has been one of the great learning lessons for me,” she noted. “Where many of us might see formidable hardships, my students see opportunities for enormous growth and they see themselves becoming very strong as a result of these difficulties that they faced.”

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