CTL Engineering gift will help build strong career foundations
Civil engineering students at The Ohio State University will gain hands-on geotechnical experience thanks to a $200,000 gift from CTL Engineering and its President and CEO C.K. Satyapriya.
The generous gift establishes the CTL Engineering Lab in Hitchcock Hall and supports the reinstatement of the Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory (CIVILENG 3541). Complementing a lecture course on the same topic, the lab enables students to test the properties of soils as construction materials.
Columbus-based CTL Engineering wanted to support the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering’s geotechnical curriculum because of how critical it is to the civil engineering field, Satyapriya said.
The effort is also part of the company’s commitment to support STEM outreach and education.
“We are very interested in having people go into the STEM fields, particularly into civil and environmental engineering, because that’s a major part of our business,” Satyapriya said. “The lack of students coming into this field is of concern. We think this is a way for us to bring more people into the field and have them trained so they will be available for industry to hire.”
As someone who took graduate courses in geotechnical engineering at Ohio State in the 70s and now serves on the civil engineering department’s External Advisory Board, Satyapriya also had a personal interest in seeing the lab space restored.
Professor of Practice Daniel Pradel, who teaches the Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory and its corresponding lecture course, agrees that geotechnical engineering is critical to the education of civil engineering students.
“Before you can build a building you need to have stable ground,” he said. “Students need to know about the capacity of the soils to carry weight, which soils are going to settle and which provide good, stable conditions.”
In the lab course, students learn how to conduct tests to identify different types of soils, identify their properties and determine if they’re suitable as construction materials.
The laboratory component of the geotechnical engineering curriculum was discontinued more than 15 years ago due to staffing constraints and the poor condition of the laboratory space.
The space was completely renovated with all-new furnishings last summer. The $200,000 gift supports the purchase of testing equipment, computers and instruments necessary for students to run the tests.
Now all civil and environmental engineering students will be able conduct experiments in this required course and see, for example, how clay soils compress significantly under even a moderate load. Connecting theory and practice, those hands-on experiences improve student learning, Pradel said.
“When you do the tests, it’s very different from learning it from the books,” he said. “You’re able to see it and measure it.”
A quicksand experiment is one of the most exciting, Pradel said. Students will make water flow through soil and be able to see the exact moment the soil becomes unstable.
“The next time students are designing, for example, an excavation for a parking lot, they’ll know what can happen if seepage comes to the bottom of your excavation,” he explained. “This ability to visualize things is really important. It gives students a much better understanding of safety and the ability to prevent a disaster.”