Clark Pacific recently donated $200,000 to help develop a new Concrete Lab at Sacramento State’s civil engineering department. Officials say the new facility will offer hands-on experience for engineering students and support the department’s primary concrete research programs designed to develop and test new technologies and "continuously improve concrete systems for construction."

The lab project is part of Sac State's College of Engineering & Computer Science, which has embarked on a $10 million initiative to renovate and enhance all of the college's labs, says Antoinette Vojtech, director of development for ECS at Sac State.

Ben Fell, associate professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, told me the donation will increase the school's capacity to conduct research with high strength concrete, fiber reinforced concrete, and pre-tensioned structural elements. "The overall goal is to enhance experiential learning opportunities for our students in both the undergraduate and graduate (MS) programs, both of which focus on hands-on learning and applied research projects," he says.

Clark Pacific, which specializes in the design and building of prefabricated building systems, has long collaborated with the Sacramento State engineering program by making course presentations on prefabricated concrete systems, partnering in academic research projects, hosting events and tours at its manufacturing facilities, and supporting Sacramento State engineers in the national Big Beam Contest. Clark also hires students for its intern programs in both engineering and construction management. 

“Sac State is a true value for our community,” said Don Clark, co-president and co-owner of Clark Pacific in a news release. “The professors and department leadership are forward thinking and provide meaningful opportunities and programs for students, industry, and the community. And we have had many great employees over the years who were graduates of their program.”

The total cost of the concrete lab renovation is roughly $560,000. To-date the university has funded $361,892 of critical upgrades to the facility, mostly improving the ventilation system of the lab and other infrastructure needs. The $200,000 donation from Clark-Pacific will complete the renovation and upgrade by providing state-of-the art concrete fabrication and testing equipment, says Fell.

When complete in 2022, the lab will feature a new digital control system and racks for the curing room, a planetary mixer, a couple ordinary mixers, high-strength rebar testing equipment, pre-stressing equipment, and bench top workstations for students. Currently about 130 students use the lab in fall and about 100 take advantage of it in spring.

Fell says that some of the interesting things to be studied in the lab include high-strength concrete and concrete with special additives to achieve a wide variety of performance criteria. He says these have become increasingly important in engineering. "This new equipment will allow faculty to add lab experiences to our curriculum, providing students exposure to sophisticated materials they will be using as professional engineers," says Fell.