CTS Research Partnership Award

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The benefits of effective research far surpass the corresponding investment and implementation. To develop, conduct, and implement research effectively, advanced skills and in-depth knowledge are required. The necessary knowledge and skills are not found in one individual, in one discipline, or even in one sector of our society. Rather, the most effective research comes about through partnerships and teamwork.

This award recognizes research projects within the CTS program that have resulted in significant impacts on transportation, and rewards teams of individuals who have drawn on the strengths of their diverse partnerships to achieve those results.


To be considered for this award, a group of individuals must have worked together on one or more research projects and implementation efforts that have the following qualities:

  • a research component led by University of Minnesota faculty or research staff
  • involvement of University of Minnesota students
  • significant findings
  • measured benefits as a result of implementing the research findings or adding to the bank of existing knowledge
  • documented costs in research and implementation

In addition, the nominated group of individuals must have:

  • represented multiple sectors (i.e., public, academic, private) of our society
  • acquired diverse skills and knowledge
  • demonstrated the synergistic effect of the partnership


Simplified Design Table for Minnesota Concrete Pavements

Before this project, MnDOT had designed concrete pavements using a program based on a modified version of a national design procedure from 1981. The program was based on outdated data, took limited factors into account, and was very conservative. MnDOT wanted to replace this program with the latest design procedure, and also have it calibrated for Minnesota climate, materials, and traffic.

The new design tool developed in this project—named MnPAVE-Rigid—makes use of the latest AASHTO design procedure. It uses more current data and modeling and takes into account climate and joint spacing. This produces a program that better models concrete pavements and ensures that road designs better match local conditions. New designs are typically one to two inches thinner than what was called for from the previous procedure, which will significantly reduce construction costs.

MnPAVE-Rigid, a standalone Windows executable program, was officially made the MnDOT concrete pavement design program in 2014. It’s now being used by MnDOT district personnel and by MnDOT-contracted consultants. 

Project partners were:

  • Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, University of Minnesota: Lev Khazanovich, Derek Tompkins
  • MnDOT: Luke Johanneck, Steven Henrichs, Maureen Jensen, Tim Andersen, Tom Burnham, Maria Masten, Bruce Tanquist, Bernard Izevbekhai, Dan Warzala, Alan Rindels
  • Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota: Matt Zeller

Two other projects received special recognition this year:

  • Planning and Implementation of Complete Streets at Multiple Scales
  • Development of a Navigation System Using Smartphone and Bluetooth Technologies to Help the Visually Impaired Navigate Work Zones Safely
Dawn Spanhake, Steven Henrichs, Tom Burnham, Derek Tompkins, and Lev Khazanovich

Past Winners

View a list of research projects that have previously received the Research Partnership Award.