The Quality Assurance Facility, or the lab, as it is commonly called, continues its support to the Fort Worth District’s Military Construction and Civil Works projects by providing periodic checks on things such as soils, concrete, and asphalt samples.
The lab is a validated facility, certified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center. Certification must be renewed every two years and the Central Texas facility received its most recent certification in January 2022.
Some of the current testing services the Fort Hood lab performs include concrete sampling and quality tests, flexural strength tests and compressive strength tests.
“We conduct various tests with soils such as moisture density testing (proctors) and lime stabilization testing,” said Patrick Spilman, lab supervisor for the Central Texas Area Office Quality Assurance Facility.
“Tests for asphalt include superpave gyratory compactor Testing, rice gravity, asphalt content, and sieve analysis of extracted aggregates.”
According to Spilman, Quality Assurance testing must be performed by a government laboratory such as the one at Fort Hood, or by purchase orders from validated commercial laboratories, to fulfill the required five percent testing the government requires in accordance with ER 1180-1-6.
“These tests are conducted in parallel with the contractor’s tests to compare and validate the results,” said Spilman.
Recently, the team performed field density testing for an Unaccompanied Enlisted Personnel Housing project on Fort Hood. The lab conducted the testing to see if the ground can support the asphalt used in making the barracks parking lot.
“This involves us going out on site and using a nuclear density gauge to test the density of the soil in the parking lot to ensure the earthwork meets project specifications,” said Spilman.
The team is also providing support to the Border Wall project by performing tests to support maintenance and patrol roads, concrete testing to support low water crossing and testing to support a gate structure, according to Spilman.
“Having well qualified team members who understand the testing required per the applicable ASTM standards is a must to maintain a USACE lab,” said Spilman.
While visiting the facility, one of Spilman’s team members, Engineering Technician, Christine Cefalu, conducted a test to measure flexural strength of a concrete beam in accordance with standards set by the American Society for Testing and Material’s.
“We take the beam which was placed in lime water at least 24 hours prior to testing and then load the beam into the beam breaker according to a specified load rate,” said Cefalu.
After the beam broke, Cefalu took width and depth measurements and calculated to see if it reached a target flexural strength of 650 psi. She wanted to see how much flex the concrete beam would take before it failed.
“If a beam does not meet the specified flexural strength, then further investigation is required which can range from obtaining three in-place drilled cores or three in-place sawed beams from the concrete paving and determining if the product is acceptable,” said Spilman.
In this case, however, the beam Cefalu tested met the required specifications, so no remedial action was necessary.
Spilman is very proud of his team and the services they provide to the Fort Worth District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The CTAO lab supervisor concluded by stating that having well-qualified team members provides the government the best bang for its buck!
The lab is always looking for lab technicians so anyone interested in joining this team of professionals should contact Mr. Spilman at 254-285-3229.