Doctoral civil engineering student earns internationally renowned fellowship

Louisiana Tech University Civil Engineering doctoral student Debojit Sarker has earned one of only 20 fellowships awarded to scholars worldwide by the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) for the 2020-21 academic year.

The GSI initiated its fellowship program for exceptional students working on innovative, research related to the geosynthetic industry in 2008 and has continued to honor researchers who develop novel approaches to geosynthetics.

Debojit Sarker makes a presentation during the Louisiana Transportation Conference 2020 at Baton Rouge.Sarker earned the GSI fellowship to complete his doctoral research on “Moisture Influence on Geosynthetic-Reinforced Pavement over Expansive Soils,” in which he is working on an engineering application to study the geosynthetic reinforcement for pavement on expansive soils.

The project is an expansion of a novel, straightforward methodology to identify expansive soil-induced stresses on highway pavement that Sarker developed with his advisor, Dr. Jay Wang, program chair of civil engineering and professor of civil engineering and construction engineering technology at Louisiana Tech. After successfully developing a new concept of the virtual load method, an adaptable mechanical system that can moderate the uplift pressure from the expansive soils subgrade and protect the pavement surface, Sarker added geosynthetics on the pavement to mitigate longitudinal cracks caused by seasonal variation of moisture content in the subgrade layer. This project will provide the first simple analysis method available in the civil engineering industry, leading to a feasible and straightforward design method using the analysis of geosynthetic-reinforced pavement on expansive soils to implement in the pavement design industry. The software will be implemented in some pavement designs handled by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Sarker has presented elements of the work in several venues, including the 2018 International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo, the 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers Geo-Congress, the 2020 Louisiana Transportation Conference and the Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science Three-Minute Thesis competition, which earned him a Peoples’ Choice Award. Sarker has also received the College of Engineering and Science Tullis Endowed Scholarship for the merit of his research.

“Debojit is resourceful, strongly motivated and self-disciplined. Also, he is a good team player, easy-going and very cooperative,” Wang said. “His expertise and determination show in his academic performance and dissertation research.”

Sarker received a Master of Science degree in Materials and Infrastructure Systems Engineering with a concentration in Civil Engineering from Louisiana Tech and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

“I am honored to receive the fellowship award by GSI and grateful to Dr. Wang for his guidance as a supervisor and a mentor throughout this project and my journey as a graduate student.,” Sarker said.