Structural Mechanics Laboratory

The Structural Mechanics Laboratory contains 2995 square feet of floor space dedicated to testing and instruction, and also houses a 155 square foot instrument room. All major testing machines are professionally calibrated bi-annually, with the last two calibrations reporting all equipment within 1% of indicated value throughout all ranges. The following is a listing of the major items in the Structural Mechanics Laboratory used in undergraduate laboratory instruction:


Tinius-Olsen 600,000 lb. Universal Testing Machine

The National Science Foundation awarded an "Engineering Research Equipment Grant: Acquisition of a High-Capacity Universal Testing Machine" to the department. This grant allowed the purchase of a new high-capacity universal testing machine for the structural mechanics laboratory. This is one of the most modern and highest capacity universal testing machines in any university in the nation. The machine is equipped with a compression bridge so that the testing regimen may be switched from compression to tension without changing the configuration of the machine. The loading program for the machine is computer controlled through a PC class microcomputer so that the testing cycles can be precisely replicated from specimen to specimen. If desired, the loading pattern may also be manually controlled. The new machine replaced an older 200,000 lb. capacity universal testing machine.

Forney 400,000 lb. Compression Testing Machine

This compression machine was donated to UAB by Sherman Industries, Inc., and was in use in a corporate testing laboratory prior to its acquisition by UAB. This machine carries the major instructional load for the department in the concrete testing area because of its high capacity and relative ease of operation.

Tinius-Olsen 60,000 lb. Universal Testing Machine

This machine, with four loading ranges from 600 to 60,000 lb. capacity, is the principal machine used in the Mechanics of Solids laboratories by students. It has also been an extremely reliable machine, and the most recent calibration of the machine found it within a tolerance of 1% throughout its range of loading.

Reihle 60,000 lb. Universal Testing Machine

This machine, also with four ranges from 600 to 60,000 lb. capacity, has not been as consistently reliable as the Tinius-Olsen machine described above. Thus, it is used principally for demonstration purposes where the precision of the results is not critical.

Tinius-Olsen 10,000 in. lb. Benchtop Torsion Machine

This machine is used regularly in the torsion experiments in the Mechanics of Solids laboratory with excellent results. The reliability has been good, and the calibration of the machine was adjustable to a tolerance of less than 1% throughout its range.

Custom Built 300,000 lb. Capacity Load Frame

This load frame was designed by Dr. N. Krishnamurthy, who was Professor and Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department at the time, as a high capacity load frame for loading full-size structural members and assemblies. The frame was fabricated and donated by a group of local firms in the steel industry. The frame was installed in the structural mechanics laboratory in March of 1980. Loads are applied to specimens through the use of calibrated jacks.

Custom built 400,000 lb. Capacity Load Frame

This load frame is capable of accommodating specimens up to 20 feet long when tested horizontally, and up to 8 feet long in a vertical test arrangement. The loading ram is moveable within the 5-foot opening to allow eccentric loading. This frame was installed in the structural mechanics lab in November of 1999.

Megadac Data Acquisition System

The Megadac consists of a powered frame, which will accept a wide variety of signal conditioning cards, enabling data capture from devices such as thermocouples, load cells, strain gages and tachometers. The Megadac system allows integration of state-of-the-art data management with traditional methods of teaching, and is an important tool for research.

Freeze-Thaw Testing Equipment

This test equipment group consists of a freeze-thaw chamber and a Sonometer to measure the relative dynamic modulus of concrete. This equipment provides the Department with important capabilities in concrete testing.

Miscellaneous Equipment

Other equipment in the laboratory includes recently purchased strain-gage equipment from Vishay-MicroMeasurements Group. This equipment is used for student projects assigned in the Mechanics of Solids laboratory as well as faculty projects.

Additional equipment allows the preparation and testing of specimens in asphalt and Portland cement concrete. The equipment includes three concrete mixers, a Gilson vibrating sieve tester, miscellaneous scales and laboratory balances, a Marshall Stability test set, and other equipment for testing Portland cement concrete and asphaltic concrete specimens. The laboratory space is served by an overhead door at the back of the laboratory, facilitating the receipt of materials for the laboratory as well as the delivery of other over-sized shipments, which can be handled by a five-ton overhead crane with the ability to be positioned over most of the floor space in the laboratory.