Thomas M. Murray Structures Laboratory

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Virginia Tech



The Thomas M. Murray Structures and Materials Laboratory is located on the campus of Virginia Tech. The laboratory includes a wide range of structural and materials testing equipment that can be used to conduct experimental research on full-scale structural components and conduct performance evaluations of civil engineering materials.  A total of 17,000 sq. ft. of laboratory and office space is available. Click Here for a map and directions to the lab.

Exterior Views of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

Exterior Views of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

Exterior Views of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

Exterior Views of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

Structural Testing Capabilities and Facilities


Central to the experimental capabilities of the structures laboratory is the 3600 sq. ft. (350 m2 ) structural reaction floor.  The approximately 30 ft. by 120 ft (9 m x 38 m) floor is constructed with four W36x150 (W920x223) steel beams encased in 3.5 ft (1 m) deep reinforced concrete.  The top flanges of the beams are exposed to permit connection of test frames.  The troughs also provide locations for hydraulic and electrical lines.  Approximately 300,000 pounds (1350 kN) of uplift can be resisted at any given location on the floor.

The materials testing wing of the lab is well equipped for mixing, placing and testing concrete specimens.  An IMER Mortarman 750 is capable of producing 22 cu. ft of UHPC every 20 minutes.  A custom strand bed is available for pretensioned specimens. The lab owns a vibrating flow table to evaluate UHPC rheology and a Japanese Yolk for measuring flexural toughness of fiber-reinforced concrete.

The structures laboratory is equipped with a variety of loading and data acquisition equipment.  Three uniaxial testing machines with capacities of 34 kips (150 kN), 110 kips (500 kN), and 300 kips (1350 kN) are utilized for testing smaller structural assemblages, connections, tension coupons, stub columns and concrete cylinders.  Each is a closed-loop servo controlled universal testing machine, along with dedicated computer control and data acquisition.  The lab is also equipped with a 3,000,000 lb specialty compression testing frame, which can accommodate specimens up to 8 ft tall.

Data acquisition for test assemblages on the structural reaction floor is principally performed with the use of a six independent computer controlled data acquisition systems.  Data acquisition for both static and dynamic testing are available with sample rates in excess of 10,000 samples per second.  Additional data acquisition systems and data loggers are available for short-term or long term testing of in-service bridges.  Also, ancillary equipment is available in the form of strain indicators and switch and balance units.

Four closed-loop servo controlled hydraulic actuators (50 kips to 200 kip capacity) powered by a 30 gpm hydraulic pump are available for fatigue or dynamic testing of building/bridge assemblages.  The actuators can be used to simulate seismic, wind or highway truck loading.  Either displacement or load control may be utilized.  In addition, several independent hydraulic actuators are available, ranging in capacity from 20,000 to 400,000 pounds (90 to 1800 kN) which are powered by a 60 gpm hydraulic pump.  A variety of load cells are available ranging in capacity from 10,000 to 500,000 pounds (45 to 2200 kN) in compression and from 10,000 to 100,000 pounds (45 to 450 kN) in tension.  Several loading frames are available to construct a variety of test setups.

Interior View of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

Interior View of the Thomas M. Murray Structures Lab

A complete machine shop, staffed by two full-time technicians, is located in the laboratory.  The technicians have a wide range of machining and welding capabilities.  An electronics technician is available within the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

Virginia Tech Computational Resources


Virginia Tech’s Advanced Research Computing (ARC) division manages computing resources suited for a wide variety of research applications across the university. The newest, Athena, has 1,344 AMD 2.3GHz Magny Cour cores (on 42 quad-socket octa-core nodes) with 2 GB RAM per core. Sixteen of the nodes are also each equipped with two nVidia S2050 Fermi GPUs with 6 GB of memory. The nodes are connected via Quad-data-rate (QDR) InfiniBand (40 Gb/sec). This machine provides researchers with the flexibility to do memory-intensive computations, high-performance visualization, or GPGPU computations. ARC also manages System X, a 2,200 core Apple cluster that once was the fastest academic supercomputer in the world, Ithaca, a 672-core IBM iDataPlex with 3 GB of memory per core, and Dante, a 256-core application testbed.

In addition, ARC will be introducing two new resources in the coming months. The first is an SGI UV system, available in March 2012, with 504 2.66 GHz cores with 2.68TB of shared memory. Users can request as much memory as they need, making it ideally suited for large-memory applications such as finite-element analysis. The second, HokieSpeed, is a large-scale CPU/GPU cluster that will be available this spring. It ranked #96 and #11 on the Top500[1] and Green500[2] lists, respectively, in November 2011.