By Hannah Lester

Engineering Students now have access to state-of-the-art, hands-on training and education at Auburn University.

The university opened and dedicated its new Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory on June 11 — a facility that includes a high bay laboratory, strong wall, strong floor, geotechnical chamber, concrete materials for research, wind testing abilities and workspaces.

Auburn Trustee Charles McCrary likened the 42,000 square laboratory to an engineers’ dream.

“I think I could live in here,” he said.

Construction began on the lab in July 2019 and continued throughout the pandemic, with the certificate of completion finalized with the school in October 2020.

Justin Marshall, director of the laboratory, said that the three most important parts of the laboratory include the strong wall, strong floor and geotechnical chamber.

“The word ‘strong’ is pretty descriptive, it’s very simple, but the reality is, that’s what it is,” he said. “We build and test structural components at full scale that would be used in bridges, buildings, stadiums, light poles, power poles, anything that’s an above-ground structure. We’re able to build it and test it at full-scale here in this laboratory.”

Students have already had the opportunity to begin learning in the lab, Marshall said.

“We have probably right now about 15 or 20 students in here every day working on different projects that are already ongoing,” he said.

The lab will be open for both undergraduate and graduate students.

“We can design more efficient structures, or safe structures or longer-lasting structures,” Marshall said.

The college honored each of the donors that contributed to the completion of the lab, including B.L. Harbert International, Craig and Judy Beatty, Dale and Happy York, Darren and Liz Johnson, Dunn-French Foundation, Jeff and Linda Stone, Joe and Kathy Weatherford, John and Mary Moore, Linda Figg, Melissa Brown Herkt, Nick and Kala Walker, PTAC – Adrian and Virginia Lovell and Vulcan Materials Company.

“This is a world-class facility,” McCrary said.