Student awarded Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship


Nathan Klenke was awarded the Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship. CW | Shelby Akin

Christian Elliott

  In July of 2015, University of Alabama graduate student Nathan Klenke was awarded the Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship. This prestigious honor placed Klenke in the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellow Program. This program is specified to students who are studying within transportation-related domains.

The Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship was created in 1953 for the late president Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to exhibit his belief and understanding in the importance of knowledge. According to the award’s official website, the Eisenhower Fellowship allows and pushes for students who have been awarded the fellowship to actively connect in educational experiences, professionalism, knowledge, research and to create relationships with other scholars.

“I’m very honored to have been awarded this fellowship,” Kenke said. “I have spent a year researching diamond grinding to find ways to improve practices and make safer and better quality pavements, so it is nice to know that other engineers think this research is important.”

The Eisenhower Fellowship grant will last for the entire year and will cover part of Klenke’s tuition. It will also give Klenke $1,500 in order for him to travel to the Transportation Research Board’s national meeting in Washington, D.C.

Klenke had to write a proposal for the research project and a personal statement regarding his passion for civil engineering when applying for the award.

“As a kid I was always really interested in structures, specifically skyscrapers and bridges,” Klenke said. “I always thought it would be really cool to the person that designs the structural system that makes structures stand. That is why I chose civil engineering, so I could be part of the structural design and design super tall structures. I have always loved roller coasters, so being a roller coaster designer would be the ultimate dream job.”

Klenke focuses his civil engineering research around the study of concrete. He will use the grant that he will receive from the Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship in order to pursue more research with the diamond grinding of concrete. Engineers diamond grind pavements in order to make it smooth again, but when that happens, the coarse aggregate is exposed. This can cause the pavement to lose its polish and friction, making it less safe and less drivable. Diamond grinding is a very common technique used in engineering, and it is very useful for rehabilitating the concrete.

Nathan Klenke’s individual research will focus on the study and examination of the best type of road texture that retains the most friction. They will study 96 different slabs of concrete. Each will contain different mixed designs and textures present for him to compare. Klenke will be researching under Alabama engineering professor Dr. Eric Giannini.

“We are hoping to find a way to diamond grind concrete pavements so they retain friction for longer,” Klenke said. “We hope to do this by either changing the diamond ground texture by increasing the spacing of the cutting blades or by combining different types of aggregate to reduce friction loss after grinding.”