Category Archives: Locations

CTAO Lab provides quality testing services for Corps projects

Patrick Spilman, laboratory manager of the CTAO Materials Laboratory and David Smith, QA manager of the CTAO Materials Laboratory advise Col. Calvin C. Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on how to perform ASTM C78 flexural strength testing.
Patrick Spilman, laboratory manager of the Central Texas Area Office Materials Laboratory and David Smith, Quality Assurance manager of the CTAO Materials Laboratory advise Col. Calvin C. Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on how to perform American Society for  Testing and Materials C78 flexural strength testing.

Laboratory validation is a very time consuming process as field and lab testing have prescribed procedures that must be followed. These standards are even more stringent when it comes to projects managed by the Fort Worth District’s Engineering and Construction Division.

All labs performing work on Corps projects must be validated by the Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi on each testing process.

“The Central Texas Area Office Quality Assurance Facility received this validation in February 2015 in one third of the normal certification timeline,” said David Smith, quality assurance manager for the Central Texas Area Office Quality Assurance Facility.

There are two paths to USACE laboratory validation. Labs receive validation either through on-site inspection by Materials Testing Center inspectors or through an audit of accreditation documents for labs that are accredited by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory.

“The value of the validation process is to assure that materials testing for USACE construction projects is done in accordance with established standards and to assure that materials going into our projects meet the specifications,” said Alfred B. Crawley, director, Materials Testing Center at ERDC.

An on-site inspection was performed for the USACE Central Texas Area Office and its Mobile QA Lab Facility at Fort Hood, Texas. The MTC inspection included a review of the laboratory’s quality control system, other equipment, personnel and laboratory test procedures.

“Upon resolution of any deficiencies found during the inspection, validations are issued for either two or three years and can be renewed by the same process,” said Patrick Spilman, lab manager for Central Texas Area Office Quality Assurance Facility.

Quality Assurance testing must be performed by a government laboratory such as the one at Fort Hood or by the use of purchase orders for commercial laboratories to fulfill the required five percent testing the government requires. These tests are conducted in parallel with the contractor’s tests to compare and validate the results.

“Even though quality control and testing are the responsibility of the contractor, it is the policy of the Engineering and Construction Division that government quality assurance testing be conducted at a rate of at least five percent of those required of the contractor,” said Smith.

Other USACE validated labs are located in the Baltimore, Huntington, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Savannah, St. Louis, and Vicksburg districts.

“Although the Engineer Regulations do not apply to locations outside the continental United States, there is a USACE validated laboratory in the Far East District,” said Crawley.

There are many benefits to having a USACE validated facility, according to Smith. These benefits include immediate presence, immediate response for any QA test, emergency availability, on-the-spot decision making, and collaboration among contractors, other Corps districts and divisions, civilian organizations, and other military organizations.

“It took meticulous planning and a lot of hard work to ensure the testing facility met the requirements for construction materials testing using ASTM and AASHTO standards — to include having the required trained and certified personnel,” said Smith.

Some of the current testing services the Fort Hood lab performs include concrete sampling and quality tests, flexural strength tests and compression strength tests. Lab personnel also conduct various tests with soils such as moisture and density testing and lime stabilization testing. Tests for asphalt include Marshall Testing and sieve analysis of extracted aggregates.

“We can expand the use of the lab by employing qualified personnel to further increase our testing capability and expand coverage across not only the Fort Worth District but the Southwestern Division,” said Smith. “Currently we are engaged with the Tulsa District to provide testing services on The Pine Creek Lake Modification of Dam and outlet works located in Southeast Oklahoma.”

Col. Calvin C. Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates a Rainhart third point beam breaker to determine flexural strength. Flexural strength is used in hardstand pavement areas and Runway or taxiway pavements.
Col. Calvin C. Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates a Rainhart third point beam breaker to determine flexural strength. Flexural strength is used in hardstand pavement areas and Runway or taxiway pavements.

Lifesaving fishermen recognized

by Jay Townsend

On March 5, 2016 two high school tournament fishermen along with an adult boat captain abandoned their quest for big bass glory to save a canoer from drowning in Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas.

While fishing in a local tournament, boat captain Micah Piker a combat medic in the Arkansas National Guard along with his brother, high school fishermen David Piker from Pottsville, Arkansas and Nick Kuras from Dardanelle, Arkansas heard yelling from a small group kayaks and canoes in the water that appeared to be in distress and noticed emergency vehicles on the opposite shoreline of the cove they were in.

Micah Piker receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim on Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.
Micah Piker receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim in Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.

The fishermen quickly reeled in their lines and headed towards the commotion. When the fishermen turned first responders arrived they found a capsized canoe and a man wearing a life jacket floating face down in the frigid 55 degree water. The two other young paddlers, his grandchildren, at the scene were unable to roll him over in the water.

Nick Kuras receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim on Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.
Nick Kuras receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim in Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.

Kuras and the Piker brothers quickly pulled the victim into their boat. Recognizing the severity of the situation Micah Piker started CPR, Nick Piker rendered first aid while Kuras drove the boat to the opposite shore where an ambulance was waiting.

David Piker receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim on Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.
David Piker receives a water safety award from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan for saving a potential drowning victim in Lake Dardanelle March 5, 2016.

Without a doubt the fast actions of Kuras and the Pikers provided the victim with a chance of survival by preventing his drowning. Their actions were commended by Little Rock District, Corps of Engineers Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan in front of their peers and family at Pottsville High School on March 29, 2016.

Three fishermen were recognized by Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers and Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan in front of their peers and Family at Pottsville High School on March 29, 2016. The three men pulled a potential drowning victim from Lake Dardanelle, rendered CPR and first aid as well as transporting him to a nearby ambulance. (left to right) Park Ranger Miles Johnson, Micah Piker, David Piker, Nick Kuras, Park Ranger Patrick Callahan and Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan.
Three fishermen were recognized by Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers and Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan in front of their peers and Family at Pottsville High School on March 29, 2016. The three men pulled a potential drowning victim from Lake Dardanelle, rendered CPR and first aid as well as transporting him to a nearby ambulance. (left to right) Park Ranger Miles Johnson, Micah Piker, David Piker, Nick Kuras, Park Ranger Patrick Callahan and Little Rock District, Deputy District Commander Maj. Andrew Jugan.

The victim ultimately passed away on March 9, 2016 from other health related issues. Without the fishermen’s quick response two grandchildren could have watched their grandfather drown that day.