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High-Bay Structures Laboratory

Engineers face a time of extraordinary opportunity—and significant need—with regard to infrastructure. According to the most recent report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers, more than a third of the 600,000 bridges in the United States are more than 50 years old. About 32 percent of urban roads and 14 percent of rural roads are in poor condition. Our network of water pipes is aging.

UIC will contribute to improvements by uniting renowned researchers, energetic students, and forward-thinking companies and agencies in our laboratory, which:

  • Offers unique faculty-developed damage-detection sensors that can generate big data on structural degradation and real-time 3D immersive visualization;
  • Allows us to monitor key elements of structural health, such as fiber-optic strain and acoustic emission;
  • Sets the stage for UIC to be first in developing revolutionary new materials, such as metamaterials that allow new structural designs for buildings and bridges;
  • Is the Chicago area's only high-bay structural testing laboratory.

About the Lab Heading link

General specs

  • 6,000 square feet
  • 45-foot high ceiling
  • 30-foot high L-shaped strong wall
  • 6-foot thick strong floor

Primary objectives

  • Design and test resilient, energy efficient, reliable infrastructure
  • Extend the life of existing infrastructure
  • Explore innovative new materials


Lesley Sneed, PhD,
Professor in Civil, Materials, and Environmental Engineering
(312) 413-3380

Equipment and Systems Heading link

The civil, materials, and environmental engineering department is now building out the High-Bay Structures Laboratory with the equipment, systems, and features needed to meet the requirements of the industry and agency partners, faculty, and students who will conduct tests in the facility. Expand the section below to see the full list.

The High-Bay Lab and UIC Heading link

Benefits to UIC Students

The laboratory opens the door to new elements of the civil, materials, and environmental engineering curriculum, including:

  • New courses, including Experiment-Based Structural Design, Structural Inspection with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Forensic Engineering
  • A new project-based learning class at the graduate level called Civil Engineering Claims and Disputes, in which students will learn about design deficiencies, structural and material flaws, QC/QA practices, and claims and disputes
  • New experimental data to enhance case studies taught in courses such as Nondestructive Evaluation of Concrete Structures, Fracture Mechanics and Failure Analysis, Introduction to Data Science, and Cities and Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Space to test student work, such as the ASCE steel bridge and concrete canoe
  • Video recording of experiments so that students can visualize structural behavior and failure, illustrating the theory they learn in the classroom

Advances in Research and Discovery

The lab will allow our faculty to compete for national grants involving large-scale structural testing. Research examples include:

  • Testing new types of metabraces to absorb seismic loads
  • Conducting impact and penetration tests for structural components and earthen materials
  • Testing decommissioned elements of Chicago’s antiquated infrastructure
  • Exploring new applications of Basalt Fiber Reinforced Polymer
  • Optimizing bridge connections using additively manufactured lattices

Faculty Research Heading link

UIC faculty have begun developing and expanding their research agendas based on the introduction of the High-Bay Structures Laboratory. Expand the section below to see how faculty expertise will interface with the capabilities of the lab.

Sponsorship Opportunities Heading link

This $15-million lab will be a cornerstone of the UIC educational experience and a catalyst for faculty research. We seek financial support from industry leaders as we outfit it into a facility that serves students and aligns with industry needs. Premier corporate partners receive premium recognition and engagement opportunities, including the following:

  • Name recognition in the lab space, on the laboratory website, and in printed materials
  • Invitations to observe experiments and other lab activities
  • Opportunities to recruit undergraduate and graduate students

For more information, contact:

Jason Elliott
Executive Director of Development
UIC College of Engineering