At its Board of Directors meeting in 2014, the ISTVS approved the ISTVS Research Grants Program. It was subsequently announced on the ISTVS website, through a newsletter, and by email in December 2014, along with a call for proposals.
The objectives of the program are to encourage:
- Interaction among the ISTVS members
- International collaborations
- Progress towards ISTVS goals
- Active terramechanics participation from young ISTVS members
The call for proposals issued December 23, 2014 was soliciting proposals from active ISTVS members applying for student support funding to sponsor activities where ISTVS members will make a contribution in areas such as the following:
- Develop and validate ISTVS standards (currently the highest ISTVS priority)
- Addressing specific research challenges that hinder the progress in terramechanics and off-road vehicle dynamics. These can include tires, case studies for model development and testing procedures.
- Compiling a database of resources (test equipment, facilities,expertise, capabilities and interests) from all universities/agencies represented in ISTVS.
- Developing curriculum or course materials for Terramechanics and Off-Road Vehicle Dynamics.
- Providing conference travel grants for students or young professionals at underserved universities or countries, or others as benefits ISTVS.
- Addressing other topics and ideas of benefit to ISTVS and the field of Terramechanics.
A peer review committee was set up by the ISTVS BOD to evaluate and rank the proposals received. Committee members were chosen to have no conflicts of interest with any of the proposals submitted. In all, six proposals were received of which one was a duplicate. Peer review was performed between April and June 2015 and resulted in significant agreement among the reviewers. Two proposals ranked similarly high and were found eligible for selection. The peer review results were presented at the October 2015 ISTVS Board of Directors meeting, and the Board decided to fund a single proposal, being the one ranking highest in the peer review.
Accordingly, the ISTVS Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the proposed research
Systematic testing and parameterization of soft soil for vehicular applications
submitted by Prof. Schalk Els, University of Pretoria (South Africa), and Prof. Corina Sandu (Virginia Tech, USA), is the first award provided by the ISTVS Research Grants Program. The objectives of the selected research are to:
- Perform a comprehensive literature survey covering all equipment and techniques used to characterize soft soil
- Compile a list of resources (test equipment, facilities, expertise, capabilities, and interests) from all universities and agencies for the ISTVS community to have a better understanding of the collective infrastructure and expertise.
- Compile a soil properties database from literature and make it available to ISTVS members to facilitate future benchmarking studies and to make soil tests procedures and parameterization techniques more uniform.
- The study will conclude with a proposed ISTVS standard for testing and parameterization of soft soil.
The proposal was ranked highest in the evaluation because it best responded to the objectives of the call and is conceived to address a significant obstacle in terramechanics being the shortcoming in standardization of equipment and experimental procedures to determine terrain properties in the laboratory and in the field, leading to many different variations on equipment design and interpretations of terrain test data obtained.
A first report on progress in the selected research will be provided at the upcoming 8th Americas Conference of the ISTVS in September in Detroit.