The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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SEM Research Facilities

The Structural Engineering and Mechanics Program maintains experimental testing areas for research and instruction in Gunness Structural Laboratory and Robert B. Brack Structural Testing Facility. These testing areas provide a space for engineering students to reinforce the analytical and mechanics based skills learned in the classroom as they conduct research to develop the next generation of infrastructure solutions.

Gunness Structural Laboratory:

  • Self reacting load frame for full scale specimen testing
  • MTS hydraulic actuator system
  • 100 Kip and 50 Kip Fatigue rated actuators
  • 30GPM SilentFlo Pump System
  • MTS Controller Unit
  • Upgraded 400 Kip Tinius Olson test machine
  • 12 Kip Instron Mechanical Test Machine
  • 12 Kip Instron Hydraulic Test Machine
  • HP data acquisition systems for dynamic and static testing – configurable to approximately 60 strain gage channels and 100 full-bridge instrumentation channels
  • 500 kip Forney concrete cylinder testing machine with external 3 point bending/ split cylinder test frame
  • 3 Ton overhead bridge crane
  • Additional hydraulic units and actuators for pseudo-static testing and field work

The Gunness Laboratory is outfitted with a full assortment of instrumentation for a wide variety of experimental testing. Instrumentation incudes LVDT’s, linear and string potentiometers, tiltmeters and load cells. Several ongoing research projects involve a large amount of field instrumentation and data collection. Bridge data has been collected using Campbell Scientific units with GeoKon instrumentation and Bridge Diagnostics equipment for bridge load testing systems.

Robert B. Brack Structural Testing Facility:

The Robert B. Brack Structural Testing Facility, allows for greatly expanded research opportunities to include large-scale infrastructure components. The facility boasts a high lifting capacity, equipped with a crane that can lift up to 60,000 pounds, which enables testing of full-size structural elements such as beams and girders. The floor, which is the most important part of the building, is comprised of 55 tie-down locations—each with the capacity to load up to 200,000 pounds in multiple configurations.

The facility supports work on larger projects, including research involving sustainable buildings and bridge components by experimenting with new materials and methods, and testing their endurance and strength. The more testing that can be done in the facility, the more innovative our students, engineers and researchers can be in designing structures and orchestrating repairs. Instructors can show students how to use analytical modeling to uncover failure mechanisms that need to be addressed within a structural design and how to conduct materials testing—skills highly valued by potential employers.

Computer Engineering Services:

Computational facilities support students performing research in the Structural Engineering and Mechanics Group and includes access to the full range of services supported by Engineering Computer Services. These include computer laboratories with Windows and Macintosh computers and a broad range of general use software.  Additionally, the group maintains high speed, multi-processor workstations running the Linux operating system that are available for students performing computationally intensive research. Access to additional cluster computing environments on campus can be arranged for specific projects.  The suite of specialized structural engineering and mechanics software available includes Ansys, Adina, Matlab, Mathematica, Risa, SAP and STAADPro.