National Center for Asphalt Technology strengthens team to help industry maintain U.S. infrastructure
Joy Powell | March 21, 2018

NCAT research experiments, based on single test sections or groups of test sections, provide sponsors the confidence to move concepts into practice, saving state departments of transportation millions of dollars each year.


The National Center for Asphalt Technology, or NCAT, at Auburn University in Alabama is strengthening its team through several staff promotions and a hiring to enhance its research, training and technical services capabilities.

The staff changes will help the center in its goal to provide practical research and development to meet the needs of maintaining America’s highway infrastructure, officials say.

NCAT staff work with state highway agencies, the Federal Highway Administration and the highway construction industry to develop and evaluate new products, design technologies and construction methods that lead to pavement improvements.

The NCAT Test Track is the only accelerated pavement testing facility that combines real-world pavement construction with live, heavy truck trafficking for rapid testing and analysis of pavements, the center says.

Located on a 309-acre site, NCAT’s Test Track is a 1.7-mile oval where research is conducted on experimental asphalt pavements. The track is comprised of 46 200-ft test sections funded as a cooperative project among highway agencies and industry sponsors.

“I’m pleased to announce the promotion of three NCAT staff members and the addition of one new member to our team,” says NCAT Director Randy West.

“Their valuable experience will enable NCAT to build on the progress we’ve made and help us maintain our prominence as a world leader in asphalt pavement technology.”

NCAT’s key personnel changes:

  • Nam Tran has been promoted to assistant director. He will be primarily responsible for leading research and outreach programs, developing proposals and fostering client relationships while guiding the definition and demonstration of NCAT’s vision. Tran joined the NCAT team in 2007.
  • Fan Yin has been appointed to assistant research professor. He will lead NCAT’s research efforts in Balanced Mix Design and porous asphalt pavements. Yin received master’s and doctoral degrees at Texas A&M University and worked as a graduate research assistant and postdoctoral researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute before joining NCAT in 2016.
  • Raquel Moraes, a materials scientist and chemist with nine years of research experience, has been hired as a postdoctoral researcher. She obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked at their Modified Asphalt Research Center for six years before joining the NCAT team last August. She is working on asphalt rejuvenators, modifiers and aging of asphalt materials.
  • Jason Nelson has been appointed to test track manager. He will support Assistant Director Buzz Powell and run day-to-day operations and safety at the NCAT Test Track. Nelson has been a member of NCAT’s team for 11 years.

Fan Yin

Raquel Moraes

Jason Nelson

Nam Tran

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