ASCC’s Sunil Bhandari Receives UMaine 2022 Postdoctoral Research Award

ASCC’s Sunil Bhandari Receives UMaine 2022 Postdoctoral Research Award

Orono, Maine University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) researcher Dr. Sunil Bhandari was recently recognized as winner of the 2022 Outstanding Postdoctoral Researcher Award. Through his extensive research, published articles, and exciting projects at the Center, Bhandari’s contributions have made an immense impact during his academic career at the University of Maine.
Part of Sunil’s postdoctoral work has been with the ASCC-based Region 1 University Transportation Centers (UTC) program, the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC), which has provided him opportunities to get involved with different industries and state departments of transportation. 

“The collaborative research works towards creating durable and economic transportation infrastructure as well as developing sustainable and resilient rehabilitation methods for fixing aging infrastructures,” Bhandari says about his postdoc work. “As a part of the TIDC, we are investigating the recyclability of these 3D-printed formworks. Effective recycling will make the 3D-printed formworks economical and environmentally friendly, paving the way for widespread use of the technology.” 

In celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, UMaine invited the public to the IMRC Center to recognize significant research and discoveries contributed by postdoctoral scholars across industries. The event featured post-doctorate students presenting their research conducted in various subjects. Presented by Assistant Vice President for Research Dr. Sandra De Urioste-Stone, the Outstanding Postdoctoral Researcher Award is designed to honor students and faculty members and highlight their research contributions that have advanced technology, innovation, and ideas in their field. 

“It is because of research leaders like Sunil that TIDC has been able to support research breakthroughs and then convert them into real life solutions to some of our most pressing  transportation challenges,” says James Bryce, senior program manager at the TIDC.
As a postdoc researcher for the TIDC, Bhandari is a CoPI on multiple projects, including the 3D-printing of culvert diffusers. Culverts are tunnels underneath highways and railroads that allow water to pass under existing infrastructure, mitigating the damage that heavy water flow may cause. Over time, culverts begin to deteriorate and require repair or even replacement, which can eventually grow costly, labor-intensive, and often will shut down sections of road. 

These 3D-printed culvert diffusers are theorized to raise the life expectancy of highway culverts, increase the culvert capacity of water flow, and reduce the velocity of water on the other side to mitigate long-term erosion. This culvert diffuser concept, printed at the University of Maine, is designed to be rapidly producible, uniquely printed based on the culvert site conditions, and more cost-effective to produce. One 3D printed culvert diffuser is set to be installed for testing in New Hampshire during the 2023 construction season.

“Dr. Sunil Bhandari has been a vital member of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) as a Postdoctoral Research Associate contributing to design and modeling of polymer-matrix composite structures and large-format additive manufacturing for construction,” remarks UMaine professor, ASCC lead researcher, and Bhandari’s advisor Roberto Lopez-Anido. “Dr. Bhandari is a talented creative thinker and innovator who has made significant contributions to the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC).”
Bhandari’s journey with ASCC began in 2014, after he came to UMaine that year from his home country Nepal. Studying civil engineering, he started as a graduate researcher under Dr. Lopez-Anido. Through his work at the Center with composites materials and reinforced thermoplastic polymers, Bhandari defended his master’s thesis in Nov. 2016, titled “Feasibility of using 3D printed molds for thermoforming thermoplastic composites.”

Over the past 8 years, Bhandari has been recognized and awarded on various occasions. Namely, he has received the Edward T. Bryand Graduate Research Award and the Director’s Award at the ASCC, both in 2017. He has also published 13 articles and has been cited over 200 times. Bhandari’s commitment to the progression of advanced manufacturing materials and advocating for a more sustainable future for the transportation industry is admirable and immeasurable. His journey that has led him to UMaine, ASCC, and TIDC is marked by a passion and dedication to learn and further knowledge.

Contact: Grace Bradley,