L.K. Crouch awarded 2006 Caplenor Research Award

For his rock solid reputation developed by building a research program from the ground up, civil and environmental engineering professor L.K. Crouch was chosen as this year's Tennessee Tech University Caplenor Faculty Research Award winner.

The founder of the construction materials program at TTU, Crouch has worked since 1990 to lead the university's research in construction and paving materials. During his tenure, he has overseen more than $1.1 million of funded research.

"Dr. Crouch has in his research always sought relevance to the professional community and the public as well," said TTU associate professor Daniel Badoe.

One of Crouch's most high profile projects focused on inventing a new material, dubbed ZOOM, which debuted after the Tennessee Department of Transportation requested a product that could help it reduce user delays experienced during road repairs. TDOT wanted a quicker way to backfill trenches after making road cuts to repair pipes buried under roads.

Although initially pourable like batter, ZOOM rapidly hardens, supports foot traffic in about two hours and vehicular traffic within three-to-six hours depending on the ambient temperature. It is inexpensive and uses commonly available materials.

Crouch's significant scholarly accomplishments fall in this field of Controlled Low-Strength Materials. He helped rewrite the TDOT specifications for these materials and has been recognized throughout the region and the nation for his success in developing rapid cure mixtures for highway applications.

An upcoming version of ZOOM may hold even more importance to the nation’s military. This rapid repair material is ideal when airfields need a quick repair.

Also dedicated to serving students, Crouch has seen 23 graduate degrees awarded to his advisees. He also mentors junior faculty members.

"Dr. Crouch is a man of good nature and pleasing personality who is well liked and respected by students, faculty and staff," said David Huddleston, TTU's CEE chairperson. "His experience, personality, intellectual ability and motivation have enabled him to provide leadership to the department throughout his career."

Crouch has brought national recognition to the university and the department through publication and presentations. He is credited with 60 career publications and more than 20 presentations in the past four years. He has also been the subject of three national articles written by others about his research.

Crouch received his bachelor's degree in geology from Murray State University, plus bachelor's and master's degrees in geological engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He also earned his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He was awarded TTU's Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service in 1998.

The Caplenor Award, first presented in 1984, is the university's premier research award and is named in honor of Donald Caplenor, former associate vice president for research and dean of instructional development who died in 1979.

Last year's Caplenor Award winner was Dean Richey, professor of curriculum and instruction.

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