Auburn University, Robins & Morton open Construction Field Laboratory

The first-of-its-kind lab was funded with a $1.3 million gift from construction giant Robins & Morton. 

March 09, 2020 |
Auburn University, Robins & Morton open Construction Field Laboratory

Robins & Morton Construction Field Laboratory at Auburn University. Photo courtesy Robins & Morton

   

Robins & Morton and Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) recently celebrated the dedication of the Robins & Morton Construction Field Laboratory.

A facility of the CADC’s McWhorter School of Building Science, the first-of-its-kind lab will advance hands-on education and research. It was made possible with support from its namesake construction firm valued at more than $1.3 million. 

“The field lab is a teaching and research facility that allows our students and faculty to experience the full range of construction management, including building assemblies in full scale and testing new construction materials and processes,” CADC Dean Vini Nathan said. “We are thrilled that this facility is the first and only one of its kind in the U.S., which gives our students a distinct advantage in the competitive building construction industry.”

Representatives of Robins & Morton joined CADC leadership, faculty and students for the March 4 event. The Robins & Morton Construction Field Laboratory, located on the university’s campus in Auburn, Alabama, recreates an active construction site, complete with a classroom that resembles a project office and indoor and outdoor spaces to demonstrate building processes.

 

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“We believe field experience is critical to a successful a career in our industry,” Robins & Morton Chairman and CEO Bill Morton said. “The field lab allows students the opportunity to combine experience in the field with a formal classroom education. We’re very excited to have this opportunity to partner with Auburn University to advance the learning process for the next generation of construction professionals.”

The field lab will provide opportunities for visiting tradespeople to demonstrate their crafts to students and for other construction professionals to work with students outside the classroom. “One of the biggest challenges we see recent graduates face when they begin their careers is adapting to the pace and complexity of a construction project and understanding how to collaborate with project team members and trade contractors,” said Aimee Comer, Robins & Morton’s Vice President of People & Development.

The McWhorter School of Building Science will use the field lab for faculty research and to support community services project such as builds for Habitat for Humanity. In addition to the classroom building, the field lab includes:
• A steel building with four 30-foot high bays, two of which are fully enclosed
• Multiple Conex units that can serve as demonstration stations, project stations or for tool and equipment storage
• Outdoor spaces for large equipment demonstrations.

The school will also use the lab to host outreach events, including the Construction Management Summer Academy for Young Women and the Building Construction Summer Camp for rising high school juniors and seniors, already scheduled for June. 

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