The Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory (FSEL) is named after Professor Phil M. Ferguson, who was an inspirational teacher and a meticulous researcher. Professor Ferguson was a member of the faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering from 1928 to 1976 and served as chair of the department from 1943 to 1957.
FSEL consists of a structural test facility and a wide range of loading equipment enabling large-scale studies of structural behavior. The results of these studies are translated into practice by the active participation of the faculty in code and specification committees. In response to the evolving challenges of the 21st century, the laboratory has expanded its experimental facilities to improve the durability of the civil infrastructure, to study the response of structures under fire, blast, and impact loads, and to develop new capabilities in nondestructive testing. New design approaches, new materials, and new computational techniques will be used to meet the engineering challenges that lie ahead.
FSEL is an integral part of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Each year, the laboratory employs approximately 50 graduate and undergraduate research assistants. Experimental research in structural engineering addresses the analysis and design of reinforced and prestressed concrete, timber, steel, masonry, and composite structural systems. Analytical research is conducted in areas such as computational mechanics, nonlinear dynamic response, wave propagation analysis, soil-structure interaction, earthquake engineering, fluid-structure interaction, and structural reliability.
Practical laboratory experience is an important component of the graduate program in structural engineering at the University of Texas. Research assistants at FSEL perform experimental research and study structural behavior by observing specimen response under the guidance of faculty advisors. Several research projects integrate analytical work with experimental studies.