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Constructed in 1965 and located on the west campus, the Applied Dynamics Lab (ADL) is the centre for large-scale structural engineering and experimental research at McMaster. The lab is designed with a cellular box foundation and a strong, reinforced main-floor that provides 300 square meters of workspace with additional lab and office space available on other levels. The special design features make the lab a particularly suitable facility for large scale structural experimental research. Clear head room of over 12 m beneath a 10-tonne overhead crane permit full scale and scaled-models testings of structures or structural components. The main loading system is a 1460 kN static/1000 kN dynamic MTS servo-controlled hydraulic system equipped with a range of actuator capacities and load cells. This system is also used to power horizontal and vertical shake tables for seismic engineering studies. In addition to a selection of hydraulic jacks and computer-controlled data acquisition equipment, 2 fixed in-plane test machines with 250 kN and 550 kN capacities are available.

Undergraduate courses include labs located in the ADL focusing on: asphalt, surveying, concrete design, beams and columns, re-enforced concrete, stress and strain in structures.

Current research is conducted on topics such as: earthquake damage prevention and remediation, repair/remediation of cracked concrete, blast resistance of surface and waterborne structures, blast/shock simulation, non-traditional concrete and masonry, re-enforcement, wind/storm loading of structures, tuned mass damper and environmental/water remediation.


The Geotechnical laboratories are equipped with triaxial (vacuum and unconfined), direct shear and consolidation testing equipment as well as pore water pressure analysis. An MTS loading system is available for the cyclic or dynamic testing of soils. Computing facilities are available for finite element computations.

The Highway Materials Laboratory is equipped for the characterization of a range of materials such as aggregates, asphalt cements, Portland cements and slags.

There is collaboration in research between the Structural and Geotechnical faculty with shared facilities and co-supervision of students.

The focus of research activity within the geotechnical group is computational mechanics. Projects include constitutive modelling of geomaterials, rehabilitation of dams, soil-pipeline interaction, liquefaction of soils during earthquake loading, and soil-structure interaction, including the behaviour of pavement structures to dynamic loading.

The group has also been involved in research dealing with modelling of masonry, reinforced concrete, biomechanics, and industrial processes such as polymer films and behaviour of electrodes in electric arc furnaces.

JHE 121 – Geotechnical Engineering lab
JHE 121 is a new lab space for the undergraduate labs related to fluid dynamics and structural mechanics. Lab equipment includes hydraulic tables for experimentation with orifice flow, hydrostatic pressure, fluid momentum, Bernoulli’s principle, centre of pressure and open channel flow.
This lab also contains the equipment for the undergraduate structural mechanics lab related to shear centre testing and unsymmetrical bending.


Laboratory space is available for conducting bench-scale experimental studies, including temperature-controlled chambers. A range of analytical equipment supports both in-house and field investigation, gas chromatographs, ion chromatograph, total carbon analyzer, TRAACS auto-analyzer, scanning UV spectrophotometer, Hach portable laboratory, refrigerated centrifuge, etc. The laboratory has both bench- and pilot-scale unit processes for water and wastewater treatment and is equipped for a range of wet chemistry analyses. Extensive experimental facilities and support are available through Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute and Wastewater Technology International Corp. in Burlington.

In addition to the University-based computing resources, graduate students have access to a variety of specialized computational tools. Hardware consists of Sun Sparcstations, Macintoshes and IBM-compatible personal computers, all of which are linked to the campus Ethernet. In addition, a state-of-the-art hardware/software video imaging system is utilized in studies of environmental hydraulics. There are also microcomputer and workstation facilities for the application of environmental information systems (EIS) methodologies to water resources and global climate change problems, and GIS modeling approaches are used to develop decision support systems for municipal solid waste management planning and for the design of sustainable communities.