K-State Salina concrete testing program aids KDOT, students
By Michelle Hall
Photos By April M. Blackmon.
Top left: Curtis Richards, freshman in civil and construction engineering technology, helps measure the dry concrete mix.
Top right: Jeremy Ingram, freshman in civil and construction engineering technology, (left) and Richards mix the concrete.
Bottom center: Ben Henry, freshman in civil and construction engineering technology, puts the dry cement mix into the concrete mixer.
Don't be alarmed if you wander into the civil engineering technology lab at Kansas State University's Salina campus. The engineers and students there are supposed to be breaking the concrete cylinders they so painstakingly mixed and poured weeks before.
It's all part of the college's Certified Inspection Training program in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Transportation. In 1999, KDOT came to the college with their idea to implement new testing for those overseeing highway construction. K-State was looking for a grant to refurbish the Civil Engineering labs, and KDOT provided them with $56,000 for new machinery.
The resulting program, which K-State Salina provides for KDOT, involves four certifications recognized by the American Concrete Institute: aggregate field tester, aggregate laboratory technician, concrete field tester and concrete strength tester technician. Students at the college can also take the courses, which greatly boost their resumes. Instead of coming back months or years later when their employers want them to be certified, K-State at Salina students have the opportunity to receive their certification before they even enter the job field.
"This definitely enhances their education," said Andy Rietcheck, assistant professor of civil engineering technology. "It's a big thing to have on their resume; a huge benefit to them."
Anyone working with soil or concrete on the job in the state of Kansas must have these certifications, said Joe Krause, coordinator of K-State at Salina's continuing education, the department that oversees the program.
"We prepare people to work on all roadways made and maintained in Kansas," he said. "We affect every roadway in Kansas in that little building."
The instruction consists, for example, of making concrete cylinders with all different mixes and putting them in a compression machine to see which consistency is the strongest. Aggregate testing trains technicians to check the character and quality of rock used in mixtures of concrete and asphalt. Soil testing enables the technician to identify and examine various kinds of soil necessary for roadways.
Krause has hired eight professionals to teach the courses the program is too big to be done in-house with the current faculty, although some professors teach courses that correlate to the program. About 1,200 people came through the program last year and Krause said he expects about 1,800 this year.
And just the fact that Krause deals with KDOT on a daily basis is very beneficial to the school it keeps them up-to-date and connected, he said.
"The program is blossoming with our strong partnership with KDOT," Krause said.
Classes are offered from November to April; about 30 to 40 are scheduled each year. Vitis the Certified Inspection Training Web site for more information on the program.
"Kansas has worked hard to make its roads stronger," Krause said. "That is accomplished through this program."