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Texas State University broke ground on its new Infrastructure Research Lab on Tuesday, Above, Texas State dignitaries participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking. Daily Record photo by Alyssa Gonzales. Below, an artist's rendering of  Texas State's new Infrastructure Research Lab. Artist's rendering courtesy of Texas State University

'SOLVING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS': Texas State breaks ground on new Infrastructure Research Laboratory

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Texas State University hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Infrastructure Research Laboratory — a 11,471-square-foot facility supporting the Ingram School of Engineering’s Civil Engineering program — at Texas State’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park. 

Many gathered Tuesday to celebrate the start of the new project and heard from university president Denise M. Trauth.

“The Infrastructure Research Lab, or what we call the IRL will advance the field of structural engineering through innovative research,” Trauth said. “Here, our faculty, staff, students and industry partners will collaborate to solve real-world problems in civil engineering.” 

The new laboratory will serve as the third building located at STAR Park

“The IRL will further elevate Texas State’s work in technology-enhanced infrastructure,” Trauth said.” Our research here will develop practical ways to build more durable and affordable infrastructure, and do it faster.” 

The $14-million lab will contain resources and equipment to help with various projects and research within the civil engineering program including 30-ton overhead cranes, hydraulic pumps and loading systems, data acquisition programs and reinforced and prestressed concrete beams. 

“Here, we’ll bring together some of the best and brightest minds from our civil engineering program, the material science, engineering and commercialization Ph.D. program and others from the College of Science and Engineering,” Trauth said. 

Ongoing projects and research within the program include assistant professor Jeff Shi’s award-winning patented “Plient concrete” technology. The semi-rigid concrete mixture is less expensive and lighter weight, containing scrap metal and recycled pavement aggregate with higher performance than traditional reinforced concrete. 

“When I look out at this site I really get excited about the future,” Trauth said. “The full impact of our university and our research enterprise make a big impact on the world.”  

Another notable project includes associate professor Feng Wang, who led a team that created a way of processing images that automatically detects air pockets in hardened concrete, further allowing to help gauge the long-term performance of infrastructure. 

The IRL is set to be open for classes in the fall of 2022. The civil engineering program first admitted freshmen in the fall of 2019 and currently has close to 300 students. The first graduating class is anticipated for the spring of 2023. 

“I’m so proud that this site will become even more vibrant and more active, where it will educate the next generation of engineers to build the cities of tomorrow,” Trauth said. 

San Marcos Record

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