About Us

Who We Are

Rao Research is an R&D and technology company developing leading edge solutions for the highway infrastructure industry. We enable our federal, state, and other highway industry partners to deliver value to their stakeholders by offering unique services and products that are:

  • Meticulously researched and executed.
  • Rigorously tested and validated against real-world facts and data.
  • Actionable and practical.
  • Developed by small teams of dedicated staff with unmatched client mission-focus.



Dr. Chetana Rao is the Founder of the company. She brings over 18 years of experience in research, and technology transfer covering the broad areas of materials, pavement analysis and design, bridges, performance prediction, quality assurance (QA), nondestructive testing, and value engineering. Dr. Rao’s research portfolio includes projects supported by the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the Federal Aviation Administration, State Departments of Transportation, and highway industry organizations. For these clients, she has conducted seminal analytical and experimental research advancing the knowledge domain and/or the state of practice. Products developed by Dr. Rao were highly acclaimed by her clients and have been implemented by agencies and practitioners. Dr. Rao has also assisted agencies with technology deployment and training.

Dr. Rao holds Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees from Osmania University in India, the University of Connecticut and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign respectively. She serves on the Technical Committees for the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science and the American Concrete Institute. She is an accomplished instructor and has presented numerous workshops and invited talks at seminars and conferences. She has authored several research reports, journal and conference publications. Dr. Rao has also received awards in recognition of her technical and academic achievements including the Bengt F. Friberg Award for Outstanding Paper by a Young Author from the International Society of Concrete Pavements and the Illinois Chapter and National Graduate Scholarships from the Women’s Transportation Seminar. She was also awarded multiple technical achievement awards by her previous employer ARA Inc. during her professional career there. Dr. Rao’s career highlights include:

  • AASHTO Pavement ME Design procedure – Key team member of the development team and involved in local calibration and State implementation activities.
  • Full scale lab and field experiments for establishing design procedures – Fatigue testing of bridge beams, curl/warp in PCC slab to estimate built-in temperature gradients.
  • Materials and optimization for performance and performance related specifications – IPRF guide for proportioning fly ash in PCC, FHWA LTPP based level 2 correlations equations to estimate PCC properties, guidance for use of internal curing in paving.
  • Advanced Quality Systems – Federal guidelines for QA procedures that reflect long term performance and serve as leading indicators for asset management systems for informed investment decisions.
  • Software products, web-platforms, web-based database tools – GIS based ground water depth estimation tool, software for backcalculation of over 5 million LTPP FWD deflection basins.
  • Sensors and prototypes – 3D image analyzer for aggregate shape, size, angularity, and texture; piezoelectric sensor for asphalt binder quality testing.
  • Innovative technologies for civil engineering applications – Specifications and test standards for the use of non-traditional and NDT technologies in QC/QA and routine engineering practice.


Rao Research has partnered with industry-leading technical consultants, prestigious academic institutions, nationally reputed testing laboratories, software developers, and other businesses to assemble collaborative teams for developing optimal technical solutions for their clients. Our strength lies in bringing together and harnessing the collective expertise of the “right expert for the right project” to provide the highest value to our clients. The extra dimension gained from the synergy across team members and organizations is central to our commitment to excellence in developing technical solutions for each project or undertaking.