The School of Technology teaches Higher National Diplomas in Civil Engineering to construction students. The faculty focuses on building resources, and teaches a module on Science Materials, which includes the subject of materials testing.
Before the development of the new on-site laboratory, The School of Technology suffered from a lack of sufficient working space in which to carry out practical research for this module. As a temporary solution, a fully equipped laboratory located at Northumbria University was used, although this proved impractical logistically. Following a government grant in respect of its scientific achievement, The School of Technology at Newcastle College made the decision to establish its own scientific materials testing laboratory on-site in order to offer students greater access to testing equipment.
The college chose ELE International, a leading supplier of construction materials testing and environmental instrumentation, to provide the materials testing equipment to be used in the laboratory, investing £85,000 in the latest technology. Peter Renshaw, Centre of Vocational Excellence Manager for Construction and the Built Environment at Newcastle College explained, “We were aware that Northumbria University was already using ELE products, which had been proven to be exceptionally useful, and we wanted to replicate that technology at our new on-site lab. ELE’s assistance proved invaluable in designing and specifying the systems to be used in the laboratory, saving us a great deal of time, resource and money that we would have otherwise needed to set up the new facility. “
The equipment supplied by ELE included a range of instrumentation, such as a density balance, large drying oven, CBR Test 50 machine, automatic soil compactor, and a core drill, typically used to provide fast and accurate test results on building sites and in construction areas around the world, as well as in the scientific research sector.
This latest technology is enabling students at Newcastle College to gain practical experience in carrying out a range of tests including the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) test, for estimating the bearing value of highway sub-bases and subgrades. ELE’s CBR-Test 50 Machine is allowing laboratory CBR tests to be performed quickly and accurately to BS 1377, while, similarly, the ELE core drill is enabling core samples of concrete, asphalt and similar materials to be taken for analytical purposes. Having on-site access to such equipment is preparing students for entering commercial environments following graduation, far more effectively than them having to travel to external sites in order to use the latest facilities.
“It was incredibly difficult to carry out research when space and resources were unavailable on-site”, explained Peter Renshaw. “Having access to the latest materials testing technology has made a two-thousand percent improvement to our previous situation. The machinery and instrumentation supplied by ELE exceeded our expectations, not to mention the first-class after-service, which was remarkable; every now and again, ELE gives us a call to find out if there’s anything they can help us with, which means a lot to us.”