Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials. Transport Engineering is the application of science and technology to the safe, efficient and sustainable movement of people and goods. It encompasses research, policy development, planning, design, implementation, operation and management of all modes of travel.
Geotechnical Engineering and Transportation Engineering are specialist fields grouped within one division. The geotechnical and bitumen laboratories are well equipped for both research and specialist services to industry.
Geotechnics research currently focuses primarily on the upper quaternary sands of the Cape Flats and its engineering geological characterisation in terms of its compressibility, shear strength, hydraulic conductivity and volumetric behaviour during shear (liquefaction potential). Ongoing geological investigations at Matjiesfontein are also are carried out in support of the construction of the Space Geodesy Observatory.
Within Transportation Engineering, specialist areas are Pavement Engineering, Traffic & Transportation Engineering (including Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)) and Traffic Safety Engineering.
Student-orientated research in pavement engineering includes accelerated testing of asphalt including MMLS testing and beam fatigue tests, environment-friendly bitumen stabilised materials researched using triaxial and fatigue tests, development of a performance-related seal design method for bitumen and modified binders, and a mix design and analysis system of asphalt bases.
Road Safety research includes road crash causation, the influence of human factors, the role of geometric design, speed, public transport safety, and pedestrian safety factors. Research in ITS focuses on public transport user information, multimodal data base development, appropriate technology applications in developing countries and freeway management information applications for travel time estimation and incident management systems.
The SANRAL Chair in Pavement Engineering, held by Prof Kim Jenkins, engages in undergraduate and postgraduate education; development and management of the asphalt and pavements laboratories; and study guidance for postgraduate students, achieved through short courses for practitioners; capacity building in pavement engineering at Universities of Technology; liaison and cooperation with SANRAL Materials Cluster, CSIR and other universities as well as specialist consulting work.