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UTA & Hanson Collaborate for Structural Research Center

October 6, 2005

The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering and Hanson, PLC will jointly develop a new research center for full-scale structural testing of heavy building materials. The center, expected to be the largest in the nation, will be located adjacent to Hanson’s concrete pipe plant, about 10 miles east of the UTA campus, in Grand Prairie.

UTA and Hanson officials are finalizing financial arrangements for the facility, to be called the UT-Arlington Center for Structural Engineering Research (UTA-CSER), which will be built with substantial contributions from UTA and Hanson. The center, with approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of conference/classroom/office space and approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of research space, will be operated by the College of Engineering’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department.

“This facility will have a huge impact on UTA and Dallas/Fort Worth. Hanson initiated the idea and UTA strongly supported it,” said Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Ali Abolmaali, who will be the director of the center. “Richard Manning, president and CEO of Hanson Building Materials, N.A., their Regional President Clifford Hahne and Chief Structural Engineer Joe Lundy and UTA’s Dean of Engineering Bill Carroll and Civil & Environmental Engineering Chair Dr. Sia Ardekani are all committed to make this center a reality.”

The research area of the facility will contain state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation, such as several 200-ton dynamic actuators, nano and laser sensors, and image processing devices. A reaction floor, the largest in the nation, will have the capability to test several full-size building and bridge components simultaneously with monotonic, cyclic, dynamic, fire and blast loads. Reaction floors have specially-reinforced foundations that are able to withstand severe loading. Two 50-ton cranes will move test specimens and materials to specialized equipment in the research area.

Dr. Abolmaali believes the center will enable UTA to compete with top national and international universities and research institutes for state and federal research grants. “This partnership will make our Civil and Environmental Engineering program rank among the top 20 in the nation,” he said. “We will be among a few research institutions to employ nano, laser and image processing technology for micro measurements and health monitoring of structural systems.” Plans call for the hiring of additional faculty and researchers to work in the center. Dr. Abolmaali is negotiating with the Kyungpook National University of South Korea to receive funding to support six post-doctoral fellows during the 2006-2009 academic years.

Hanson, PLC is one of the world's leading heavy building material companies. It is the world's largest producer of aggregates (crushed rock, sand and gravel) and one of the largest producers of concrete products. Hanson‘s operations are in the United Kingdom , North America, Australia, Continental Europe and Asia Pacific, with more than 27,000 employees in 14 countries. Its Grand Prairie concrete pipe plant is the largest in the world.