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Oklahoma State University

OSU opens world-class facility for materials and structures engineering

Bert Cooper Engineering Laboratory showcases technology developed by the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology
 
(STILLWATER, Okla., April 24, 2015) – Thanks to generous donors and innovative faculty, Oklahoma State University has launched a groundbreaking research lab for structures and materials engineering with a new geothermal systems for energy efficiency.

Dean Paul Tikalsky of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology led the ceremony to officially open the Bert Cooper Laboratory one block north of McElroy on Tyler Road.

“The Cooper Lab will be home to developing the next generation of structural materials and sensor technology, and we hope to showcase the world-leading geothermal technology developed within our college,” Tikalsky said. “The geothermal technology that was developed right here at OSU is now used around the world. We hope that the Bert Cooper Engineering Laboratory will provide a working example for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in buildings.”

The 33,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to test full-size bridges and multi-story buildings thanks to thick strong floor and large cranes and advanced testing equipment. It recreates the real-world environment to evaluate new concepts in science and engineering as well as showcases technology developed at OSU. A large testing bay is also dedicated to researching how structures and materials respond to fire and hazardous events.

Design and construction of the facility incorporated environmentally sustainable methods developed by OSU faculty and researchers, from low-carbon concrete mixtures for foundations to the geothermal ground-source heat pump systems. It is one of the first major building projects in Oklahoma to use blended cement containing limestone four and fly ash.

These reduce the building’s environmental footprint by 40 percent while 96 percent of the structural steel is made from recycled materials. In addition, the building features high-efficiency plumbing and solar-shading features both inside and outside of the facility.

OSU President Burns Hargis said the laboratory is named to honor Bert Cooper. The OSU alumnus and supporter was the former CEO and board chairman of W&W AFCO Steel in 2003 when he partnered with Gorman Gilbert, former head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to create the vision for this facility.

“We remember both men and pay tribute to their passion and legacy as we dedicate a laboratory that will change the landscape of our campus and the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology,” Hargis said. “As with any project like this, it would not have been possible without the support of many donors and corporate partners. In this case, more than 80 donors and approximately 30 companies played a part in construction. That includes W&W AFCO Steel, now run by Bert’s son Rick, which donated all of the steel materials for the building.”

All of the architecture and engineering services were donated by Frankfurt Short Bruza of Oklahoma City, and Cobb Engineering of Oklahoma City.

“The Bert Cooper Laboratory is a high-tech building with unique features that set OSU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering apart from other schools in the nation,” Tikalsky said. “Dr. Gilbert and Bert Cooper had the foresight as well as the support of university and industry leaders to create such a unique offering to students and faculty that will lead OSU into the future of structural and materials engineering.”

The facility’s capabilities will reach far beyond the Stillwater campus and across the state of Oklahoma. As the final speaker, Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Mike Patterson announced that the Highway Construction Materials Technician Training and Certification Program will be moving from Oklahoma City to be housed in the Cooper Lab.

“A lab like this and the research that is developed in this space will change transportation in Oklahoma and across the country,” Patterson said. “Having a training facility and resources like this puts ODOT on the map.”

CONTACT: Chelsea Robinson | CEAT Marketing | 405-744-5831 | chelsea.l.robinson@okstate.edu