Investing in Future Talent

Two-story Structural Lab helps prepare Kansas City’s next generation of civil engineers
Professor John Kevern stands in the new structural lab space with students

There’s no denying Kansas City is a hub for civil engineers.

With international industry leaders such as Burns and McDonnell and Black and Veatch headquartered locally, Kansas City maintains a uniquely high demand for new recruits trained in the field. So even before the plans for the new Plaster Center began to take shape, SCE leadership knew it was critical to provide students with a state-of-the-art structural lab.

Today, the UMKC Structural Lab occupies the west wing of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. This two-story facility is designed to test full-size structural components like highway beams.

“It is always a benefit for structural engineers to see how their designs are constructed in reality,” says John Kevern, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. “This hands-on experience provides a level of practicality that we haven’t been able to offer before and will improve the quality of all civil engineering students.”

In addition to preparing graduates for competitive jobs here in Kansas City and beyond, the Structural Lab will allow faculty to propose projects using non-traditional materials and analysis techniques because they now have a testbed for validation and verification.

By the numbers: 

  • The two-story crane can support up to 20 tons.
  • Beams up to 53-feet can be unloaded and tested.

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