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Release: Immediate

UI offers first course on winter highways this fall over the ICN

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Salt, sand and snowplows -- they may not be a few of Iowans' favorite winter things, but a new University of Iowa class being offered statewide may give motorists a better appreciation for what it takes to keep roads safe for winter driving.

"Winter Highway Maintenance" is the first course of its kind designed to provide an overview of the state of the art in keeping roads passable and to offer a practical and theoretical understanding of the decisions that have to be made in keeping the roads clear.

The course, one of several credit courses offered by the UI over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) this fall, will be taught by Wilfrid Nixon, professor of civil and environmental engineering and one of the world's leading experts on ice and its properties.

"One of the goals of the course is to help move winter highway maintenance from being an art to being a science," Nixon says. "We want to present the science behind some of the techniques and see if there are better ways of maintaining highways during the winter."

"Winter Highway Maintenance" is an upper-level, three-credit-hour class offered through the College of Engineering. The course meets from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Aug. 27 until Dec. 17 at these sites: Ames, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo and the UI.

Designed for practicing state, county and city engineers, as well as for graduate students and advanced undergraduates interested in civil engineering careers, the course will cover such topics as how -- and when -- ice-melting chemicals work; the aerodynamics of plowing snow; dealing with drifting and blowing snow; snow fence design; weather forecasting information and how those resources are used to make roads safer.

Nixon says several public universities offer two-day workshops on snow removal and highway maintenance for practicing engineers, but he says the UI course is the first offered on a semester basis and available for university credit.

The course also reflects a trend in civil engineering curricula around the country as programs start to pay more attention to highway maintenance, Nixon says.

"In the past a lot of the focus has been on highway design, on building new and better roads," Nixon says. "Now the focus has shifted a little bit to questions of, 'How do we maintain those roads?' It's a different task."

The class is one of several credit courses offered by the UI Division of Continuing Education, the UI colleges of Engineering, Education, Liberal Arts and Nursing over the ICN. The system allows students at all sites to see, hear and talk with the instructor leading the class and with students at all sites.

Courses offered on the ICN are intended for students with an educational, professional or personal interest in the topics covered. Courses meet requirements for the Iowa Regents Universities' Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree and are available for graduate credit as well as professional development credit.

People interested in enrolling do not need to be registered in a UI program to take classes.

Tuition is $112 a credit hour for undergraduates and $176 an hour for graduate credit.

Other ICN courses this fall include offerings in education, nursing, engineering and library and information science.

For more information, contact the Center for Credit Programs, the University of Iowa, 116 International Center, Iowa City, Iowa 52242; call toll-free: 1-800-272-6430; fax: (319) 335-2001; email:; World Wide Web: