Brief History of the Research Facilities

1980 to 1982

Establishment of the Structural Laboratory at South Park Annex. The 30 ft by 70 ft laboratory has a strong floor 4 ft deep with a grid of 250-kip anchors spaced at 1 meter. It has a 10-ton crane and a hard-line hydraulic distribution system throughout the laboratory. This facility has a capacity comparable to the best structural laboratories in the nation.

1983 to 1984

Design and built a 220-kip test facility for uniaxial and biaxial compression fatigue of construction materials. The cost of over $60,000 was funded by a NSF grant. This biaxial fatigue test rig is described in a journal paper "A Fatigue Test Machine for the Biaxial Compression of Concrete," by Su and Hsu, Journal of Testing and Evaluation, ASTM, Vol. 16, No. 6, Nov. 1988, pp. 549-554.

1986 to 1988

Design and construct a large and versatile universal panel tester for full-size reinforced concrete panels 55 in. square and up to 16 in. thick. It consists of forty 100-ton jacks housed in a 16 ft by 16 ft giant steel frame. The jack pressures are supplied by a sophisticated hydraulic system. It is the only one of its kind in the United States and the most versatile of the three in the world. The cost of $650,000 was funded from research grants, three from NSF and one from TATRP. This panel testing facility is described in a journal paper, "A Universal Panel Tester," by Hsu, Belarbi and Pang, Journal of Testing and Evaluations, ASTM, Vol. 23, No. 1, Jan. 1995. pp. 41-49.

1992 to 1994

Design and install a 10-channel servo control system on the universal panel tester. The cost of $126,700 was funded by NSF. This control sytem is specially designed by our laboratory and Gardner System Corp. It's capability to perform strain-control tests is unique in the world. This innovative control system is described in a journal paper, "A Servo-Control System for the Universal Panel Tester," by Hsu, Zhang and Gomez, Journal of Testing and Evaluations, ASTM, Vol. 23, No. 6, Nov. 1995, pp. 424-430.

1995 to 1996

Install a data management system on the universal panel tester. The cost of $40,093 was funded by NSF. This system allows mode switch between load-control and strain-control modes, and provides real-time graphic capability.

1996 to 1997

Establishment of a 2.5-million lbs, closed-loop, servo-control testing system, capable of static, dynamic and fatigue tests. This MTS test machine has a 12-in. stroke actuator, 14 ft by 6.6 ft clear space, 75 gpm power supply, and a versatile TestStar control system. This new test machine is one of the best of its kind in the United States, and places the University of Houston in the forefront of high strength material research.

1996 to 1997

A new 20-ft by 120-ft laboratory was established to accommodate the $670,000 MTS test facility and to house a 60-ft long, 4-ft deep strong floor. $160,000 was used to install a 10-ton overhead crane, a rolled-up door and other renovations.


A 20-ft long and 15-ft high steel frame was constructed to test full-size girders. It has four MTS hydraulic actuators of 223, 340, 340 and 147-kip capacity. The actuators were controlled by a versatile FlexTestGT system with Multipurpose Test (MPT) feature that allows the four actuators to work independently or in unison under either a force-control or a displacement-control mode.


A 15-ft high steel reaction frame was designed to test large shear walls under cyclic and dynamic loading. The loading is applied by two MTS hydraulic actuators, each with a capacity of 340-kip and 6 in. displacement.