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'An engineer's dream': Auburn University dedicates new structural engineering lab
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'An engineer's dream': Auburn University dedicates new structural engineering lab

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There’s a new $22 million Auburn University structural engineering lab on the corner of West Samford Avenue and Shug Jordan Parkway that is “an engineer’s dream,” according to Auburn Board of Trustee and 1973 mechanical engineering alumnus Charles McCrary.

Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosted a dedication and grand opening of the Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory Friday afternoon.

The lab’s director Justin Marshall said the key component of the facility is the high bay laboratory complete with three major items: a strong wall and strong floor where tie-down points are seen and the 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber.

“The word strong is pretty descriptive – it’s very simple, but the reality is that’s what it is,” Marshall said. “We build and test structural components at full scale that would be used in bridges, buildings, stadiums, light poles, power poles, anything that’s an above-ground structure. …”

Marshall says the chamber is unique to the facility because it’s within the footprint of the strong floor.

“All major structures are built on foundations; the soil is where everything reacts, so testing components on this solid, concrete floor is helpful, but in the real world we have the interaction between the soil and the foundation and the structure, and this chamber lets us test full-scale systems that way.”

The 42,000-square-foot building also features a concrete materials research and testing laboratory, wind-testing capabilities that can replicate hurricane-level loads, and faculty and graduate student spaces.

McCrary and fellow trustee Michael DeMaioribus, an electrical engineering alumnus, were both in attendance at Friday afternoon’s dedication. Dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Christopher B. Roberts welcomed the hundred or so guests to the facility, calling it “state-of-the-art.”

Every day, about 15 or 20 students are in the lab working on ongoing projects, Marshall says.

He says the lab is waiting on a few major pieces of equipment to be set up before being fully operational.

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