COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Robert L. Lytton, Ph.D., Benson Chair professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, received the 2006 NOVA Award from the Construction Innovation Forum (CIF) for his Pavement Composition Analysis (PCA) research. Lytton’s research uses an air-launched, ground-penetrating radar to aid highway construction quality control. The radar is swept over a completed section of pavement to analyze its properties, including its composition, number of layers, and the thickness of each layer.

Engineers can then plot lane-width maps with contours of each composition element, helping them pinpoint flaws in the construction process and ultimately resulting in safer, longer-lasting roadways. According to Lytton, his method is equivalent to analyzing 18,000 core samples in a given lane-mile of a project, but only two cores every four lane-miles is required for calibration with the PCA method, saving both time and money.

The NOVA Award is CIF’s most distinguished award; out of 535 nominations to date worldwide, only 67 innovations have received the award. According to CIF, "Each of the nominations represents the best in human ingenuity, inspiration, and creativity. All of them deserve respect and attention. However, only the best of the best receive the NOVA."

Lytton has been a member of the Texas A&M faculty since 1971 and currently serves as the director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering.