Created and equipped with $2 million (of a $4.7 million donation) from the family of late alumnus Charles Pankow, a new laboratory at Purdue University
Created and equipped with $2 million (of a $4.7 million donation) from the family of late alumnus Charles Pankow, a new laboratory at Purdue University aims to develop more durable and environmentally friendly concrete to help fortify aging highways, bridges and other infrastructure. Accordingly, research at the Charles Pankow Concrete Materials Laboratory will focus on reducing concrete cracks and corrosion of steel rods in reinforced concrete, affirms Jason Weiss, director of the West Lafayette, Ind., facility.
Dedicated in October, the lab enables engineers to test large concrete specimens in an environmental chamber that simulates extreme temperatures and humidity. We can test a wide range of specimen sizes and finely control conditions inside the environmental chamber, Weiss emphasizes. Both factors are critical for generating accurate data. Researchers also will use the lab to examine properties and performance of more environmentally friendly concrete mixes that generate less carbon dioxide by using green binders.
Today, more than ever, graduating civil engineers are being asked to build long-lasting, durable structures on tighter and tighter budgets, Weiss asserts. The Pankow Lab will be instrumental in finding critical solutions, while also providing crucial training for students. Adds Professor and Bowen Engineering Head of the School of Civil Engineering M. Katherine Banks, Thanks to the generosity of the Pankow family, these studies will now take place in a world-class laboratory.
Charles Pankow (1923-2004) earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1947 and received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1983. Working out of a garage at his Altadena, Calif., home, he first launched a construction company, Charles Pankow Builders Inc., in 1963. The enterprise since has gained recognition nationwide as a major commercial construction player, noted especially for advanced casting and erection methods to expedite project delivery. Among Pankow Builders’ innovations are the use of a concrete moment-resistant frame and precast cladding as a forming system. Today, the company builds commercial office buildings, multifamily homes, mixed-use developments, hotels, hospitals and parking structures.
Sons Richard, Stephen and Charles Pankow were on hand during the October dedication of the Purdue University lab named for their father. The new civil engineering facility was created to meet the challenge of aging infrastructure by developing more durable and environmentally friendly concrete.