Facilities and Equipment


More than 30 experimental and computer laboratories are utilized within the academic programs. This number includes some laboratories that are primarily used for undergraduate teaching, but are also available for routine measurements in support of graduate teaching and research, other labs that are primarily used for graduate teaching, and a number of specialized facilities that have been developed specifically to support research in particular areas.

Advanced Characterization of Infrastructure Materials Laboratory

In our materials research program, we interact with and share the resources of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), and several university-based national centers of expertise, including the International Center for Aggregates Research, the South Central Superpave Center, and the Center for Asphalt Materials and Chemistry. These centers offer the opportunity to provide funding for outstanding students and to demonstrate the application of engineering principles and research on a field scale.

TTI provides the faculty, researchers, and graduate students of the materials area of the department access to its expertise and resources, and state-of-the-art research tools. The research facilities include the state-of-the art equipment for mechanical testing, nondestructive evaluation, and microstructure characterization techniques such as optical imaging systems, X-ray computed tomography, and scanning electron microscopes.

High Bay Structural & Materials Testing Laboratory

The High-Bay Structural and Materials Testing Laboratory primarily serves the researchers of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, the Texas A&M University College of Engineering, and the Texas Transportation Institute. The testing equipment, instrumentation, and shop equipment contained within the High-Bay Structural and Materials Testing Laboratory represent an investment of several million dollars and is one of the largest, most modern, and best-equipped facilities of its kind located in the South and Southwest.

Facilities & Equipment

Wave Tank

The Wave Tank is a fluid mechanics laboratory housed in the Civil Engineering Laboratory Building, CVLB 109. This laboratory is used both for graduate research programs and the undergraduate fluid dynamics laboratory (CVEN 336).

The laboratory houses a glass walled 2D wave tank that is 115 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep. A variable height random deepwater wave generator is capable of making wave heights of 10 inches in 3 feet of water. The wave tank also has a 6 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 2 feet deep sediment pit approximately 40 feet from the wave maker. It has a beach (3.3:1), beach wave absorber nd a portable 30:1 beach. A towing carriage is mounted on rails and has a variable speed drive with maximum speed of 2 ft/s.

A new research tank in the laboratory is a 2 m long by 1 m wide by 1.3 m deep glass-walled experimental tank. The tank is designed for conducting Particle Image Velocimetry measurements of multiphase plume flows.

Measurement technology in the laboratory includes several sophisticated systems. A 3D Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) is installed in the lab with fiber-optic cables so that velocity measurements can be made at any point along the glass-walled flume. The laser can also be used for Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF) measurements. A dual-head, high-powered Nd:YAG laser is available with 10 bit and 12 bit cameras for Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). The laboratory also has data acquisition and control hardware, a vibration free optical table, wave gauges, and other equipment needed in research.

High-Powered Computing

Researchers maintain a large computational cluster of about 150 processors. These resources are dedicated; only faculty and students in the program have access to these computers. The cluster is used primarily for the development of parallel simulation tools, with a heavy focus on computational fluid dynamics. Example applications include hurricane surge inundation, estimation of nearshore wave and currents, wave impact on structures such as breakwaters, wave-ship interaction, and tsunami flooding predictions.

The need for such large computational resources arises from the fact that many of the issues facing engineers are inherently "multi-scale." For example, the storm surge created by a hurricane is generated by strong winds blowing over ocean basins that may be 100's of miles wide. Yet, the local surge on a coastline is dependent on features that have scales of a few feet or less; encompassing scales across 5 orders of magnitude. To simulate processes through these scales, sophisticated numerical models run on parallel computer architecture are needed.

The computer cluster is housed in the Civil Engineering Department server room. The processors in the cluster are primarily AMD Opteron's running Linux, connected via gigabit network. The combined storage space of the cluster exceeds 20 Terabytes. Since this cluster was initiated in 2004, over 100 years of computer processor time have been utilized.