CTS completes new concrete research lab construction

CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp. has finished construction of an Advanced Concrete Research Laboratory, an extension of the Donald G. Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory, and the first test slabs have been cast.

Located on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Okla., the Donald G. Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory, Advanced Concrete Research Laboratory’s purpose is the testing of slabs on grade and pavement.

With seven test beds for studying the long-term behavior of concrete slabs on grade, this will allow 3-foot by 20-foot slabs to be tested with full restraint at each end of the specimen, while the top surface is exposed to a controlled environment and the bottom surface is exposed to soil temperatures and moisture. The construction of the test facility and the first series of tests are financially supported by CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp. of Cypress, Calif.

According to Ed Rice, chairman of CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp., this 1,800-square-foot lab building is dedicated to studying shrinkage and curl of concrete slabs on grade.

“We are proud to support the addition of a new advanced lab that has the goal of improving the performance of slabs-on-grade, resulting in longer lasting pavements with lower maintenance costs,” said Rice. “The efforts that the University of Oklahoma is making to provide such a facility for concrete research will benefit not only the students, but the future of our industry.”

The entire addition was built by five Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES) students from the College of Engineering at the University under the mentorship of assistant professor and director of Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory Chris Ramseyer, Ph.D., P.E.

Ramseyer earned his Ph.D from the University in 2005 and joined the faculty in January 2006. His research interests include improving the reliability and accuracy of steel and concrete design codes, concrete materials, structural stability, metal building and bridge issues, application of finite-element analysis and experimental testing techniques to structural systems.

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Students spent the summer digging the footings, laying out the anchor bolts and rebar, pouring the foundation, erecting the steel frames and secondary structural elements and insulating and paneling the walls and ceilings. The only sub-contracted work was the casting of the interior slab and the electrical work. While the experience was guided by Ramseyer, he allowed the students to gain firsthand experience and learn from their mistakes. “I didn’t see any mistakes that hadn’t been made at some point by a contractor. I’m proud of what these students have accomplished,” Ramseyer stated.

The new Advanced Concrete Research Lab is starting to collect data on the first test slabs. This work is being performed by Shideh Shadravan, doctoral candidate in engineering at the University of Oklahoma.