Civil engineering opens the doors of a new research center
The University of Arkansas Department of Civil Engineering and College of Engineering celebrated the completion of Grady E. Harvell Civil Engineering Research and Education Center, or CEREC, on July 20. First designed as a project goal by the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineering in 1999; CEREC’s objectives are to provide a facility that will allow students and faculty to conduct research and provide teaching laboratories related to material testing and large-scale material testing. CEREC will also allow the University to consolidate research laboratories which are currently spread over three facilities on separate campuses.
Grady E. Harvell Civil Engineering Research and Education Center
Grady E. Harvell, President and COO of W&W | AFCO Steel and U of A alumnus, said during his keynote address: “Practical research is one of the essentials good engineering training. It is gratifying to see this research center become a reality. The research done here will develop more efficient and cost effective construction methods for steel, concrete, and lumber in Arkansas as well as nationwide. This facility was named in honor of Harvell for his contributions and driving force in making CEREC a reality.
Grady Harvell speaking at the ceremony as former State Representative Andy Davis looks on.
The state-of-the-art 37,400 square foot facility will provide space and opportunity for civil engineering students for decades to come. In addition to hosting several graduate courses, CEREC provides sufficient space for 15 faculty members and 75 students to conduct research. “We can now perform large-scale tests on structural members, which is a luxury that very few labs across the country have,” said Bette Poblete, doctoral student in civil engineering.
From left to right, Acting Chancellor Bill Kincaid, Dean of Engineering Kim Needy, PhD student Bette Poblete, Grady Harvell, Stephanie Blevins representing Governor Hutchinson, former State Representative Andy Davis and Micah Hale, head of the civil engineering department.
Students who study at CEREC will have an impact on the national and global future of civil engineering. “Engineers who will design and build structures in our state, nation and world will be educated and trained here,” said Micah Hale, head of the civil engineering department. “Faculty members will conduct research at CEREC which forms the basis of national and international design codes and building codes.” In fact, as you may have read in Civil Engineering and the Science of Destruction, CEREC professors and students are already hard at work testing the materials.
From left to right, Gus Vratsinas, Scott Bennett, Dan Flowers, Grady Harvell, Jim McClelland, John Burkhalter, Bert Parker, Dan Williams and Andy Davis.
This installation is the first phase of a two-phase plan. The first phase includes a great structural height with solid ground and a laying yard, concrete and steel materials laboratories and a fabrication shop. Phase two will include geotechnical and asphalt testing laboratories, a laboratory, a classroom and certification spaces for the Transport Professionals Training Center (CTTP). The currently open facility, phase one, was built at a cost of $ 14 million. Funding comes from sources across the country including Grady and Linda Harvell, Arkansas Governor’s Office, Arkansas Department of Transportation, Garver, McClelland Consulting Engineers, Nucor Yamato, Jim and Pat McClelland, APAC , Sunderland Foundation, Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers, and many more. It was truly a team effort to benefit civil engineering students, the state of Arkansas, and the nation.
CEREC is headed by Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Gary Prinz. “With Dr. Prinz leading this lab, I think this facility and the University of Arkansas will become a leader in steel research,” said Grady Harvell. “It is a dream come true to know that this facility will last for decades.
About the Department of Civil Engineering: The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Arkansas was established in 1897 when the College of Engineering clearly established the separation of civil and mechanical engineering degrees. The department maintains accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and ranks in the top 10% of civil engineering schools nationwide according to best engineering schools. The department earned $ 2.7 million in research grants in FY2020 while our graduates earn an average starting salary of $ 68,000. To learn more about the Department of Civil Engineering, please visit our website.