Engineering graduate student receives prestigious research award

Jason Wright in the labJason Wright, a graduate student in the University of Georgia College of Engineering, has been awarded a highly competitive 2018-2019 Geosynthetics Institute (GSI) Fellowship. GSI presents no more than 15 fellowships each year to master’s and doctoral students studying geosynthetics around the world.

Wright will receive a $5,000 grant to study how geosynthetics, which are manufactured synthetic products used to stabilize terrain, perform when incorporated into the design of north Georgia roadways. Geosynthics include geogrids, geomembranes, and geotextiles and other products.

“We’re researching how geosynthetics may help reduce rutting and road degradation,” said Wright. “To do this, we build artificial roadways in UGA’s STRENGTH Lab (Structural Engineering Testing Hub) and use a large scale testing apparatus to examine their performance.”

The project will help Georgia Department of Transportation engineers determine whether geosynthetic grids and other products should be incorporated into new highway projects in north Georgia to extend the the pavement’s lifecycle.

Jason Wright

Jason Wright

Wright says a three-semester cooperative education experience with Tensar International sparked his interest in geotechnical engineering. Part of Wright’s work with the Alpharetta-based company involved retaining wall design with geosynthetics, an experience he incorporated into his thesis research as a master’s student in the UGA College of Engineering.

“I’m investigating the effectiveness of geosynthetics in subgrade soils in north Georgia through accelerated pavement testing for my thesis,” said Wright. “During my co-op, I used similar geogrid products to design vertical retaining walls. Now in my research at UGA, I’m testing geogrids in horizontal pavement applications. It’s been intriguing to see the similarities between the two experiences.”

Wright is a member of Associate Professor Sonny Kim’s research team in the Geotechnical and Pavement Materials Lab. The lab conducts a variety of pavement research and works closely with the Georgia Department of Transportation on projects designed to improve the durability and cost-effectiveness of the state’s roadways.

Wright, a native of Watkinsville, Georgia, graduated from UGA in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He immediately began working toward a master’s in engineering with an emphasis in civil engineering.

The Geosynthetic Institute is a consortium of 71 member organizations engaged in the manufacturing, design and use of geosynthetics as engineering materials.

By Mike Wooten

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