Auburn constructing $22 million Advanced Structural Testing Laboratory

Published: February 15, 2019
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Auburn University is taking another giant step as the Southeast’s leader in structural engineering research and instruction through the construction of a $22 million Advanced Structural Testing Laboratory.

The 41,500-square-foot facility will include a high bay laboratory with specially engineered floors and walls capable of handling extreme structural testing loads; a geotechnical test chamber; a concrete materials research and testing laboratory; a wind testing facility and faculty and graduate student spaces.

The 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber is a unique feature — one of the few across the nation included in a university laboratory. It will allow students and faculty to conduct testing that has only been possible in the field until now on structures such as foundations, anchorages and towers. In addition, the wind testing facility will allow replication of the dynamic wind loads induced by hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme wind events on large-scale specimens. These unique features, and many more, will accelerate research aimed at reducing the impacts during extreme events, and increase lifespan and safety of structures under all loading conditions.

“Auburn is at the forefront of engineering education, and by providing our students opportunities for experiential learning, we’re ensuring our graduates emerge as industry leaders,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “This outstanding facility enables our researchers to deliver innovative solutions to pressing industry demands — something Auburn does best.”

The laboratory will be located near Auburn University Facilities Management offices on West Samford Avenue. The construction of the new facility will allow the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering to repurpose the current structural laboratory space in the Harbert Engineering Center for other academic and research programs.

“When you combine the strong floor and strong wall with the geotechnical testing capability and all the other materials testing capabilities, we think this will be one of the best laboratories in the country — if not the best,” said Steve Taylor, associate dean for research in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “If I’m a civil engineering student who wants to be a structural engineer, this is going to be one of the best places to go to school in the nation.”

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.