Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Lab Grand Opening, WSU Pullman

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, Washington State University at Pullman, state dignitaries, construction leaders, WSU construction alumni, PACCAR management, Simpson Strong-Tie management and the press celebrated the grand opening and dedication of the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building (PETB) and the Simpson Strong-Tie Research and Testing Laboratory.

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The Simpson Strong-Tie team comprised senior leadership, engineering and marketing representatives, led by our CEO, Karen Colonias. In her speech at the opening ceremony, Karen Colonias highlighted the leadership of Simpson Strong-Tie in the engineering and construction materials industry in the U.S. and the world. She emphasized the longstanding partnership between WSU and Simpson Strong-Tie, which spans over twenty years of collaboration in various testing and code development programs, and communicated our excitement at the opportunity to collaborate more closely with WSU’s highly respected engineering department on testing and engineering programs.

Karen Colonias speaking at the Grand Opening

Karen Colonias speaking at the Grand Opening

The Paccar Environmental Technology Building (PETB) is 96,000 square feet and houses the Composite Materials and Engineering Center (CMEC) – a highly integrated hub of interdisciplinary research and education in the areas of renewable materials, sustainable design, water quality, and atmospheric research. The shared space in this new building will foster the synergy needed to find new solutions to complex industry problems, such as creating human environments that are at once safe, economical and resilient.

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The Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Lab at Washington State University (WSU) is a versatile laboratory designed specifically for the structural testing and prototyping of tall timber buildings, post frame buildings, concrete durability, building repair and retrofit and deck safety, as well as seismic and wind mitigation.

The lab includes a high-capacity reaction 28′ x 46′ concrete floor area with tie-downs, 75-kip capacity at two foot centers through the floor area; a high-capacity wall 28′ long by 2’thick by 18′ tall strong wall that is capable of withstanding a 200-kip reaction in any direction; a central 90-gallon-per-minute hydraulic pump, overhead crate and concrete mixing station. The laboratory is a dynamic space to test new material and design concepts developed in the PETB. This is one of the most visible spaces in the PETB and includes capabilities for mock-ups of new building systems, structural testing and advanced digital manufacturing. Adjoining the lab is an outdoor 32′ by 52′ reaction slab that allows for project display (e.g., Solar Decathlon competition), for developing taller and or larger structures than would be possible on the interior strong floor and for natural weather exposure testing.

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The lab is part of the Composite Materials and Engineering Center (CMEC), which has been a leader in the development of wood composite materials for more than 65 years. It is an International Code Council–accredited testing facility. The laboratory highlights engineered wood composites and is constructed of cross-laminated timber, glulam, Parallam and, of course, Simpson Strong-Tie® No- Equal connectors.

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Simpson Strong-Tie and WSU, as Karen Colonias mentioned in her speech, have a longstanding and productive partnership going back over 20 years. The two institutions have worked together in a number of areas, including new product testing, deck safety and seismic risk mitigation.

This year, Simpson Strong-Tie made a significant commitment and established the Simpson Strong-Tie Excellence Fund at the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture at Washington State University (WSU). The fund provides an annual gift of $100,000 per year over the next eight years to support the new Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Lab in the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building (PETB). In addition to the lab, the Excellence Fund will support fellowships for professors and graduate students to present research findings, brainstorm about future research and conduct continuing education training.

The faculty of the Composite Materials and Engineering Center is committed to addressing the challenge of restoring and improving the U.S. civil infrastructure and offering an integrated approach linking material discovery, manufacturing innovation, product development, and customized design methodologies that will lead to high-performing, cost-effective solutions for the built environment. The core faculty possess diverse expertise that spans materials science (polymers, wood, cement, steel), durability and corrosion protection, manufacturing and sustainable design. The faculty also has a long history of involvement in developing building codes, standards and product acceptance criteria.

This year, the WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture has more than 1,050 students enrolled in civil engineering, architecture and construction management programs. The alumni from these programs are founders of and senior executives in America’s top construction and design firms. The Wall Street Journal ranked WSU among the 25 universities whose graduates are top-rated by industry recruiters, and the Civil Engineering program is the 13th largest in the nation.

On October 29, 2016, and in line with this partnership, Simpson Strong-Tie is conducting its first annual engineering symposium at Washington State University Pullman. In this symposium, Simpson Strong-Tie engineers will share with the engineering and construction management students the various career opportunities that are available in the industry upon their graduation and introduce them to the exciting history of research and innovation at Simpson Strong-Tie. The Symposium will also include testing in the new lab of our No-Equal structural connectors and solutions.

At Simpson Strong-Tie, we are excited to be strengthening the partnership and increasing the collaboration with WSU faculty and students. We are looking forward to an extended and outstanding relationship that drives research and innovations and introduces new methods to design and construct safer, more resilient, sustainable and economical structures.

Onward and Upward!

Louay Shamroukh, P.E., S.E.

Engineering Manager, Northwestern U.S.

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