CU's instructional centrifuge is a state of the art tool for teaching geotechnical principles to undergraduate engineering students. Centrifuges have been used as tools in geotechnical research for over fifty years. They provide a convenient method for testing reduced scaled models of engineering structures under the stresses and loading conditions that realistically duplicate prototype behavior. The importance of geotechnical centrifuges is often compared to the role of wind tunnels in aeronautic research. In the last decade an instructional centrifuge has been used in undergraduate education at the University of Colorado. Through hands-on exercises, students observe the failure mechanisms of slopes, retaining walls and foundations in addition to being introduced to the principles of experimental research.
The centrifuge is equipped with in-flight digital image processing and load measurement capabilities, making quantitative evaluations of test results convenient. As various didactic units are developed, the test description and results will be posted on the experiments page. Please feel free to use them in your instructions. If you have some test ideas that you would like to have developed, please contact us and we will be glad to cooperate with you in developing the test and sharing the results on this site.
This project was supported by the Division of Undergraduate Education Program of the National Science Foundation under the Cooperative agreement No. DUE-0341327 and by the Warkley fund of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder.