It gets wet and messy, but educationally invaluable, when the concrete starts pouring in room 1N8.
That’s the John A. Cavanagh Materials Testing Lab, where civil engineering majors recently became the first high school students in the nation to receive professional certification for making, curing, and testing concrete, thanks to the efforts of teacher Michael Boulis.
Reminiscent of bygone days when Tech students rolled up sleeves and donned shop aprons for hands-on learning, the future engineers mix the ingredients, allow it to set, and use sophisticated equipment and methodology to see if they’ve done it right. If they correctly perform the complex testing regimen, they earn certification from the industry’s standard-setting American Concrete Institute (ACI).
Boulis also teaches at CUNY’s City Tech, where second-year college students perform the same exercises to earn the certification, and thought, “Why not Brooklyn Tech?”
At first ACI turned down his request to join the program on the grounds it was college-level. “So then I told them about our school and our students,” Boulis recalled.
ACI officials look closer at Tech and were so impressed that they slashed the exam fees significantly and had volunteer professional engineers conduct the certifications for free. Alumni Foundation grants helped cover project costs.
The extensive seven-step exercise tests density, weight, air content and other variables. There is also a 55-question written test. Last year, 93% of the students passed the written portion and 97% passed the performance test.
At first, said student Lukyan Ivakhno, “It’s mostly fun, like playing in a sand box but with concrete. But it further proves to colleges that we know how to work and how to learn.”
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