UA dedicates $14 million civil engineering research facility

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 563 views 

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville has opened a $14 million civil engineering facility named for a former student.

The Grady E. Harvell Civil Engineering Research and Education Center (CEREC) is a 37,400-square-foot facility in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. Harvell, a Little Rock-based businessman, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1972 and is the president of Little Rock-based W&W|AFCO Steel.

The UA named the facility for Harvell for his donations and his driving force bringing CEREC into reality. An undisclosed estate gift commitment from the Harvell family, one of several contributions the family provided toward the facility, helped the capital project reach its final fundraising goal before construction started last year.

“Practical research is one of the essential elements of a good engineering education. It’s gratifying to see this research center become a reality,” Harvell said during a July ribbon cutting. “The research done here will develop more efficient and cost-effective construction methods for steel, concrete and timber in Arkansas as well as the nation.”

Along with hosting several graduate-level courses, CEREC provides space for 15 faculty members and 75 students to conduct research.

Grady Harvell

“We can now do full-scale testing of structural members, which is a luxury that very few labs across the country have,” said Bette Poblete, a doctoral student in civil engineering.

According to the UA, the facility is phase one of a two-phase plan. Phase one includes a structural high-bay with strong floor and lay-down yard, concrete and steel materials labs, and a fabrication shop. Phase two will include geotechnical and asphalt testing labs, laboratory, classroom, and certification spaces for the Center for Training Transportation Professionals (CTTP).

The UA said phase one was built for $14 million. The funding came from sources across the country that include Grady and Linda Harvell, The Office of the Governor of Arkansas, Arkansas Department of Transportation, Garver, McClelland Consulting Engineers, Nucor Yamato, Jim and Pat McClelland, APAC, Sunderland Foundation, the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers and many others.

Mike Emery, a spokesman in the Department of Civil Engineering, said fundraising for phase two is underway, and groundbreaking will be scheduled at a later date. The phase two campaign goal is $14 million.