Engineering materials and Structural Testing Laboratory (EMSTL)


Engineering Materials and Structural Testing Laboratory

Physical Facilities

The Structural Testing Laboratory houses both data acquisition and MTS hydraulic testing systems that are used in both undergraduate instruction and in faculty/graduate research. The laboratory has a 100-ft by 50-ft strong-floor and a 20-ft high by 15-ft (legs) L-shaped strong-wall, which enables the construction of purpose-built test fixtures. Images of these can be found below.

The mission of the EMSTL is multi-faceted.  The primary mission of the EMSTL is to provide Marquette University undergraduate and graduate students with state-of-the-art hands-on educational experiences related to characterization of engineering materials and behavior of structural systems and structural components.  It should be emphasized that the student population included in the mission is campus wide and is not isolated to the College of Engineering, or even Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) Students.  The second facet to the mission is to be the primary facility for extramurally funded graduate student and faculty research in the area of engineering materials characterization and physical testing of structural components and structural systems.  The final facet to the EMSTL mission is to be of service to industry and the engineering community as a resource for materials characterization and physical testing of structural components and systems.

Funding agencies: National Science Foundation, American Institute of Steel Construction, Wisconsin Highway Research Program, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, United States Army, United States Navy, DARPA, National Cooperative Highway Research Program

Specialized Equipment

Strong-Wall and Strong-Floor Space

Strong Floor Bay Looking East

Strong Wall and Typical Strong Floor Fixture used in EMSTL

Strong Floor Bay Looking West

Strong Floor Bay Looking Down


Overhead Crane, Forklifts, Pallet Jacks, and Scissors Lifts

Crane Runway and Bridge Beam

Crane Trolly


Pallet Jack

Scissors Lift

Fixture Storage Platform Elevator, 8,000 lb capacity


MTS Servo-Hydraulic System

Hydraulic, Pwer, Data, and Compressed Air Service Monuments

MTS FlexTest Servo-Control System

MTS SilentFlo 60 gal/min (GPM) Hydraulic Pump Unit (HPU)

50 kip (C/T) Actuator

15 kip (C/T) Actuator

Concrete Mixing Room and Environmental Chamber

Forney Compression Testing Machine

Ovens and Sieve Area

Concrete Mixing Space

Espec Environmental Chamber

Mechanical Testing Facility

25 kip Fatigue Rated MTS Test Frame

110 kip Fatigue Rated MTS Test Frame

Brinnell Hardness Test Device

Rockwell Hardness Test Device

Instron Charpy Impact Testing Machine

5 kip Screw Driven Instron Test Frame

Mechanical Testing Space - Overview

Discussion and Teaching Space

Fume Hood Extension

Chemical Laboratory

Benchtop Experimentation Area

Tables for Classroom Interaction and Discussion

Educational Applications

The facility is currently being (or has imminent plans to be) used in the following CCEE undergraduate courses: CEEN 3320 (Civil Engineering Materials); CEEN 2130 (Mechanics of Materials); CEEN 3410 (Structural Analysis 1); CEEN 3160 (Geotechnical Engineering); CEEN 3430 (Steel Design 1); CEEN 3440 (Reinforced Concrete Design).  The EMSTL is also used in Mechanical Engineering courses. 

Research Applications

Joseph Diekfuss, Ph.D. student

Over the past few decades, there have been issues of poor fatigue performance (the main failure mechanism) of the welded, tube-to-transverse plate connections within sign support structures. The fatigue tests shown here were performed to supplement existing experimental results and to help quantify uncertainty related to the fatigue performance of these types of structures. This research was funded through the Wisconsin Highway Research Program (WHRP) by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under Projects 0092-08-14 and 0092-09-07. 

Fatigue Test Setup for Highway Sign Connections inside EMSTL


Fatigue test setup in EMSTL illustrating test fixtures, data acquisition system, MTS actuator and control station

Strain gaging used during fatigue tests: Vishay strain gage, Vishay spot welder, and round specimen with strain gages installed

Fatigue crack detected via dye penetrant testing after 4,374,464 cycles of loading for one of the test specimens

David Newman, Managing Director of EMSTL

The purpose of the precast/brick tests is to understand the effect of freeze/thaw cycling on the tensile strength of the precast unit as a whole. The purpose of the dowel bar pull out tests is to determine the effects of new dowel materials/manufacturing processes as they relate to adhesion of concrete to dowels in jointed concrete.

Video: Hollow core precast plank lifting lug pull out test w/ 50 kip actuator

Video: Constant amplitude fatigue test of welded tube-to-transverse plate connections w/ 20 kip actuator

Aligning and adhering a test fixture to a precast concrete and brick specimen in preparation for a pull off test

Precast concrete/brick specimen under load in test frame

Precast concrete/brick specimen under load in test frame

Precast concrete/brick specimen post test. Note the failure in the brick.

Dr. James Crovetti

CEEN 3160 - Geotechnical Engineering represents a fundamental knowledge course for Junior level students in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.  The course examines fundamental properties and engineering characteristics of soil, including the formation and the development of soil strata, the physical and hydraulic properties, and the methods of predicting the stress-strain behavior of soils for engineering applications. The specific goal of this project is to develop a complete sequence of field and laboratory tests which allow students to discover, and hopefully appreciate what is hidden underground, including the existing soil deposits as well as the completed foundation support systems.

Outdoor soil pit configured for a small-scale foundation load test

Outdoor soil pit configured for a small-scale foundation load test (close up)


Contact us

College of Engineering
1515 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Dean's office: (414) 288-6591
Prospective students: (414) 288-7302
Academic Advising Center: (414) 288-6000
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