The geotechnical engineering laboratories and associated facilities reflect the program's emphasis on core subject material, as well as the breadth of research interests being pursued by the faculty. The geotechnical laboratories are located within Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall, which also houses faculty and graduate student offices, as well as the administrative offices for the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Field equipment and additional experimental facilities are located at the Pickle Research Center, located seven miles north of the main UT-Austin campus.

Conventional Laboratory

Equipment is available for performing all standard geotechnical tests for measuring soil index properties, including specific gravity, grain size distribution, Atterberg limits, minimum and maximum index densities, and soil compaction.

More sophisticated equipment is available for measuring hydraulic conductivity, consolidation, shear strength, and dynamic properties. This laboratory equipment, which is used for both teaching and research, includes:

  • 9 frames for conducting one-dimensional consolidation tests.
  • 7 stations for conducting flexible wall permeameter tests.
  • 15 triaxial test stations with pressure panels.
  • Several dozen triaxial cells.
  • 7 direct shear machines.

Specialized Laboratories

Specialized test equipment in the geotechnical laboratories include:

  • A constant-rate-of-strain consolidation apparatus.
  • Equipment for conducting high-pressure triaxial shear tests.
  • A servo-hydraulic, cyclic triaxial device that can test cylindrical specimens measuring 70 mm (2.8 in) or 100 mm (4.0 in) in diameter with full computer control of all test parameters.
  • A simple shear testing apparatus.
  • A servo-hydraulic, cyclic simple shear device with full computer control of all test parameters including variable confining pressures.
  • A separate soil dynamics laboratory with extensive facilities for resonant column and torsional shear testing.
  • A one-meter (3 ft) diameter pressure vessel for conducting penetration and model foundation tests in sands under controlled stress conditions.
  • Two large rectangular tanks (4 ft by 8 ft in plan, by 6 ft high) for testing scale models of foundations in soft clays.
  • For field testing, an extensive array of equipment for measuring in situ stress wave velocities using either downhole methods, crosshole methods, or the Spectral Analysis of Surface Waves (SASW) method.
  • A 45,000 lb mobile vibrator for generating surface vibrations at remote test sites, and a van for transporting associated instrumentation to the field.

Below are four specialized labs. Click each name for a description.

  • Soil Dynamics Laboratory
  • Centrifuge Laboratory
  • Geosynthetics and Geoenvironmental Laboratory
  • Rock Mechanics Laboratory
  • Cyclic testing Laboratory

The geotechnical engineering faculty has considerable experience in the construction of unique test equipment. A variety of university technicians and support staff are available to assist in the assembly of such equipment. In particular, a fully equipped machine shop with a full-time staff machinist is maintained by the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and is used extensively by the geotechnical engineering faculty and students.

Computer Facilities

Extensive computing facilities are available at The University of Texas at Austin, including a supercomputer system and a large number of workstations. In the Learning Resource Center maintained by the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, numerous personal computers, printers, and software applications are available for routine student use.

In the geotechnical engineering program, most computer work is now accomplished using an array of modern personal computers. A separate computer room is devoted to research in the area of geotechnical reliability. In the testing laboratories, personal computers are used for automated test control and data acquisition, reduction, tabulation, and plotting.

Engineering Library

The libraries at The University of Texas at Austin are divided by major disciplines and are found in several locations around campus. The Perry-CastaƱeda Library is the main campus library. Most of the reference material in geotechnical engineering is housed in the McKinney Engineering Library, which is located on the first floor of Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall. Many of the library services can be accessed via the Internet by accessing the UT General Libraries homepage. From this website, you can search the library collection, access online databases, and conduct a wide array of other library business.