Todd Scholz is a Senior Associate Engineer with GeoDesign, Inc.
Pavement Materials & Structural Design
Pavement Management & Forensic Investigations
Software & Database Application Development
How did you choose pavement engineering as a career?
My involvement in an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) project investigating various asphalt additives during my last year of my bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University (OSU) aroused my interest in the curious material we call asphalt and conducting research to investigate it. Recognizing these interests, the professor I was working for recruited me to complete a master’s degree, where I conducted research to develop improved mix design and construction procedures for cold in-place recycling of asphalt pavements. This, in turn, led to my involvement in a nationally-sponsored research project that produced numerous test procedures and our current mix design procedure for hot-mix asphalt. I continued pursuing a career in pavement engineering spurred by the gratification that I had contributed to developing some of the tools used within the discipline.
Tell us about your time at OSU.
I enjoyed my time at OSU. I taught courses on civil engineering materials, heavy civil construction, pavement structures for highways and airports, and geographical information systems. I particularly enjoyed the lab portion of the materials course, where the student groups participated in a statistically-based experiment design using additives for concrete mixtures. Over time, it turned into sort of a competition among the lab groups to design the strongest concrete. They took great delight, as did I, when their cylinders literally exploded (and some nearly disintegrated) when they tested them in compression. I also enjoyed the many research projects I conducted with the assistance of grad students, especially those resulting in guidelines and specifications that have been implemented by ODOT.
Within pavement engineering, what are your specific areas of expertise?
My entire career has centered around pavement materials and structural design, so I guess you could say these are my primary areas of expertise. I have also managed numerous pavement management and forensic investigation projects, so I have expertise in these areas as well. And, I have expertise in software and database application development, given the many applications I have developed over my career to streamline engineering processes.
Describe a time when you were able to come up with an innovative solution to a problem:
I’d have to say co-inventing the Environmental Conditioning System (ECS) during the Strategic Highway Research Program was the most innovative accomplishment of my career. The ECS evaluates the moisture sensitivity of asphalt mixtures, based on changes in the dynamic modulus of asphalt concrete specimens subjected to moisture conditioning and, optionally, freeze-thaw cycling. Second to developing the ECS, I’d say developing a server-based, software/database application for Granite Construction to automate the recording, storage, and retrieval of dozens of materials tests was innovative at the time it was developed. And, as I alluded to previously, I have developed many other software applications simply because I like developing code to make my job more efficient.