The Department of Civil Engineering's new state-of-the-art structures lab, on the east side of the Bingham Building, can mimic the worst mother nature can throw at the built environment while enabling researchers to learn why everything from deep sea structures to soaring towers fail, and how to make them safer and sounder.
The Richard '39 and Opal Vanderhoof Infrastructure Research and Education Facility was recently unveiled: 2,400-square-feet of hardy concrete, steel and hydraulics married to high-tech computer controls and sensor systems.
The Vanderhoofs provided a gift of $2 million to build the new facility, with the Case Alumni Association leading this major fundraising initiative.
"It's a gift from the past – civil engineering alumni – to future and present civil engineering students," said Dario Gasparini, professor of civil engineering. He has shepherded the project, and talked about the effort to a crowd of more than 50 alumni, university administrators, students and other guests.
In attendance were two representatives of the Vanderhoofs; Frank E. Gerace Case Institute of Technology '48, whose name adorns the L-shaped strong wall; and others who donated time and money to create a facility that now puts the university in competition for large-scale academic, industrial and governmental research and testing.
Arthur A. Huckelbridge Jr., professor of civil engineering, showed the audience his current project: stressing and straining components of a base similar to that used on some wind turbines in Europe. The bases have proven a weakness in the design.
"I barely remember this space before: it was dark, dirty, unused and crowded with junk stored here," said Chad Fusco, a master's student and one of the first students to use the new lab.
"Now it's beautiful and usable," said Janette Siu, a master's student who, with Fusco, demonstrated a system that stabilizes buildings in high winds and earthquakes. "The new lab is a boon to faculty and students."
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