Civil Engineering Research Center Breaks Ground
From left: U of A mascot Big Red; Sen. John Boozman; Josh Pinter, a civil engineering senior; Matt Bodishbaugh, vice president of CDI Contractors; Scott Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation; U of A Chancellor Joe Steinmetz; Micah Hale, department head of civil engineering; Grady Harvell, president of W&W|AFCO Steel; Tim Maddox, principal of DEMX Architecture; U of A Provost Jim Coleman; and Gary Prinz, director of the Civil Engineering Research and Education Center.
Leaders from across Arkansas gathered Nov. 4 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the University of Arkansas’ Civil Engineering Research and Education Center at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.
Students, staff, faculty and friends of the University of Arkansas were on hand for the ceremony, which commemorated the start of construction on the 37,400-square-foot facility in south Fayetteville.
Known as CEREC, the $13.8 million facility will serve as a research and teaching space for the Department of Civil Engineering and will be a resource for academic, government and industrial partners across Arkansas.
The space includes a high-bay structural testing facility with a four-foot thick “strong-floor” capable of testing large-scale structural systems and components. It will also house a 25-ton rail crane to move heavy materials.
The facility will be the first of its kind in Arkansas. Currently, large-scale structural components must be sent out of state for testing. CEREC will allow academic, industry and government researchers to conduct cutting-edge experimental research in-state.
CEREC will also serve as a living laboratory for several hundred students annually, and the facility has space for 15 faculty members to conduct research.
John English, dean of the College of Engineering, said the space will benefit students, faculty and partners across the state.
“The CEREC groundbreaking represents a lot of hard work by our faculty, staff, alumni and partners to make this project a reality,” he said. “We’re grateful for everyone who has chosen to invest in this project, and we’re looking forward to the incredible research and educational opportunities that lie ahead for this facility.”
Gary Prinz, associate professor of civil engineering, will serve as CEREC’s inaugural director. Prinz is an expert in steel structures and has earned the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early CAREER Development award, as well as a 2018 Milek Fellowship from the American Institute of Steel Construction, for his research in the field.
Prinz said CEREC will provide valuable hands-on experiences for students and will allow researchers to conduct new kinds of research.
“The Civil Engineering Research and Education Center will be a transformative facility for the department of civil engineering and a game-changer for the future research initiatives of the civil engineering faculty,” he said.
“It’s one thing to do an engineering calculation for the fracture limit state of a structural steel connection, it’s another thing to feel the shock wave from the fracture limit state during an actual full-scale experiment.”
The project is expected to be complete in spring 2021, with the first classes set to start in the fall of that year.
Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
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