Over spring break, five students in the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program at California State University-Chico assisted in the evaluation of concrete bunkers at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France. Pointe du Hoc was a key location for the historic World War II D-Day landing in June 1944.
There, students Chad Golden, Robert Hostettler, Andrew Billingsley, Courtney Sheehan, and Alexx McAvoy used latest nondestructive testing equipment to assess concrete conditions of the Observation Post and gun casements. Field-rugged computers enabled entering data and running tests on sound-wave velocities pulsing through the concrete to determine its integrity via specially designed transducers positioned at precise locations on opposite sides of walls. The test was capable of sending and receiving ultrasonic pulses through approximately 80 inches of concrete in some site locations. Another test, involving a concrete-thickness gauge applicable with one-sided access, indicated concrete thicknesses, delaminations and voids.
Cal State Chico Assistant Professor Tanya Wattenburg Komas, who teaches a class in concrete repair and preservation, set up the research opportunity with colleagues at Texas A&M University, who had been working with the American Battle Monuments Commission to survey the historic landing site and evaluate cliffs supporting the concrete structures. The Chico team was invited to assess the concrete structures' condition and provide needed information about foundation depths. A preliminary existing conditions report, combining previous laboratory-testing and recent fieldwork results, will be produced by the Chico participants. Data collected during concrete investigations will be applied to the project's cliff stabilization.
The trip was an amazing experience for us all, asserts Prof. Komas. The students completed an incredible amount of work with proficiency and professionalism, despite several days accompanied by gale-force winds and heavy rain. Implementation of the proven CIM academic program, together with specialized courses at Cal State Chico and industry support at the national and local levels, provided invaluable hands-on training for students as future members of research and industry teams, she adds.