A Tour of the World Center for Concrete Technology

A Tour of the World Center for Concrete Technology

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welcome to another edition of alpena community  college's fireside chats. i'm the director   of alumni relations mary eagan and on this  episode, i will take you for an insider's look   at the world center for concrete technology.  you'll find out about the academic degrees   that we offer in concrete technology, but  you'll also find out that we do a lot more   at the world center for concrete technology.  it's not just about education in-house,  

but it's about educating the world about concrete  and concrete block. we also do a lot of testing   and experimentation over at the wcct that i think  you're going to find pretty interesting. so,   let's take a walk over to the world  center for concrete technology.   the world center for concrete technology is housed  in harris hall honoring william p harris and his   family who were integral to the formation and  success of the huron-portland cement company.  

construction on harris hall broke ground in  april 1999 and had a budget of about $8 million,   the bulk of which was donated by besser company  and others in the concrete industry. wcct opened   in august, 2000 and is home to one of acc's  most famous and respected programs of study.   we are in harris hall in the world center for  concrete technology and i'm joined by dawn stone,   the director of the world center for concrete  technology. welcome to the acc fireside chats.   could you tell me a little bit about wcct? sure.  so the wcct um was built about 20 years ago. uh   we have been, you know, have, we've had a concrete  technology program for a lot more years than that,   but about 20 years ago, we saw the need to  be able to to build and develop the program   and offer other services, in addition to the  traditional associates of applied science program.   so the the hall was built 20 years ago  and we have a full-size besser black   machine here. we have a full-size  testing lab so we can test concrete for  

for strength and absorption and those kind of  things. so, yeah. so this is the wcct and we'll   get a little bit more in-depth with all of the  features, the, the educational features of the   world center for concrete technology but  just looking at this building it makes me   think back to besser technical center,  which was originally built to showcase   the decorative uses of concrete masonry. and  concrete really is both literally and figuratively   the building block of alpena community college,  so this is kind of the updated version of   the showcase to show what concrete masonry can  look like and it's everything from a ping pong   table behind you to paving stones and planters and  and all sorts of stuff. so it's a little unusual  

to have a ping pong table--not, not to mention  a concrete ping pong table--here in a college,   so can you tell me about that?sure. so one of  the things that you know that i mentioned is that   you know we wanted to expand our reach when  it comes to the concrete industry and so we   may had a partnership a number of years ago before  i was here with a company that wanted to develop   concrete ping pong tables for parks, outdoor parks  in new york city, and so they came and they tested   it and they figured out you know whether or not  it would work and whether or not they would last   and in return they gave us this ping pong  table. well it's very cool. students use it?   they use it every single day--very loudly--and  they have a very good time. and you know when   you're in an education program that's intense,  this is a wonderful release for them, you know,   and and it also gives them another example of how  concrete is a huge part of our world. well, it's  

a fun part of our world and i think, i don't know,  maybe we should start a competitive concrete ping   pong league. maybe that could be our thing. sure,  sure absolutely. well, let's go and see some of   the other aspects of the world center for concrete  technology and learn a little bit more about maybe   the educational part of this and then we'll get  into the testing and research. sounds good. we   are now in the classroom lab. now it doesn't look  like your typical classroom, uh, but we do have,   well, maybe a typical instructor. this is eric  kennedy, instructor here in concrete technology   at alpena community college and, eric, you've  been on board, what? about a year now? yep, yep.   so are you an alumnus of the program? yep. so  i graduated the concrete tech program in 2009.  

um, i went through here and then i went on and  worked in industry for about 11 years and then i   was lucky enough to, you know, get a job back  here, uh, after kevin sylvester retired. so how   do you feel that your education here at alpena  community college prepared you for the workforce   of concrete tech? yeah, so, i mean, here you get  well-versed in many different aspects of, uh,   of the industry, which i worked in many different  parts and that's kind of what we do. we give   everybody kind of a footstep in the door, you  know, because we have, uh, block, you know,   we teach a block class. we teach a place concrete  class. we teach precast, aggregate, cements--so,   ag mixtures--so, every different part of the  industry that you're going to go into, we kind   of dabble in. we don't teach you everything, but  that's what you do when you get out there. so,  

it really gets you a footstep in the door. so  what are the kind of things that you do here   in the classroom lab? yes we do many different  things as you can see in front of us here's a   pervious slab this was actually made in  tim onstwedder, the other instructor's lab   this year. uh, you can actually pour a bucket of  water right through it and it's gonna, you know,   as fast as you can pour it in there, it's going  to take it out. so you don't need a lot of, uh,   you know, storm drain systems, retention ponds,  things like that--and naturally filters the,   you know, runoff. the oils, the salts, you  know, everything that comes off your car,   right through it without having these retention  ponds and things like that. all right, so this   is the pervious slab and this is usually, uh,  we're going to pour it right through this live.  

you can see it going through the bottom there  and we usually measure in gallons per minute.   some people, we have students who have done  full-year research projects on the pervious   concrete slabs, where they they find out  and get a little more in depth into it. and so what are they used for out in the  real world? yeah, so sidewalks, parking   structures...uh, they're actually using some of it  for backfills behind the retention walls you know   so that the water doesn't sit behind those walls  and put more pressure on, so it can drain through,   uh, you know, anywhere that doesn't have high  traffic volumes you can use this pervious   concrete. because it's not as durable, you  can't use it on a freeway and things like that,   but small parking lots, you know, sidewalks, uh  areas trying to just get the water off. that's   really cool! now, we have an example of maybe more  of the decorative uses of concrete--not that it's   not also functional, eric--but tell me about this.  well, it looks like a sculpture. yeah, so this is,  

uh, this is a michigan mold that when we didn't  make our concrete canoes and precast class   which is uh anything that's made beforehand you  know a mire that goes out to a building it's all   tilted up it's made beforehand in a controlled  environment so you usually make something like   this michigan mold here um we make it usually  a self-consolidating concrete you can put any   different kinds of aggregates in it to make it  look like anything you want basically you want   it to look like granite marble i mean you can  make it look a lot different you know it's cool   in the dark yeah i mean nobody would really  think it's concrete. you can polish it up,   you can make it look really nice, and you can  use it for concrete countertops. like i said,   precast concrete, many different applications  for things like this. and this glows in the dark?  

yes, this goes in the dark, so if we had the  chance we could kill the lights for the video   we could show that it does well in the dark.  yeah, well, also it's nice for your kitchen,   because if you get up in the middle of  the night for cookies and milk as i do,   you don't even have to turn on a light. it's  perfect. yeah yeah so a lot of people use them   too for like uh indoor or pathways up to your  house you know things like that to kind of light   the way so you don't have to put solar lights and  things like that so. that's really clever! cool.   and i feel like i'm being attacked by something  eric. what is this? this is a concrete canoe  

made in 2002, so this is an older one. this  is one we've always kept around for years   back when we had the auto body shop. they had  some friends that were in the auto body so they   got it nice and finished up and painted really  nice. uh so it looks really good. so we've kept  

this one around for many years. and how much does  this weigh? this is, i mean, this is thick. yeah,   this one this one, weighs uh probably about 300  pounds. i would say this one on the lighter side   compared to the ones that we made this year which  were a little bit thicker and a little bit longer   so. but usually the the concrete weighs itself. we  usually measure in pounds per cubic foot, so about  

50 pounds per cubic foot, which is about a third  of what normal concrete's going to be. okay, so   this down here is kind of, what the, yes, the  vessel--shall we call it the ship? yeah so this   is a part of it. you can see it's got some  expanded glass liquid aggregates in there.   they only weigh probably about five pounds cubic  foot, so that's how we get concrete to actually   float in water. we use some lightweight aggregates  inside of it so it can float in water. so  

in this year's concrete canoe race, which i know  is a tradition with the program, um who won?   uh i don't like to brag, but me and uh tim  onstwedder, we uh took this old uh one from   2002 out on the water and, uh, we beat the  students handily. we were at the other end   of pond before the students turned around. does  this have a name? like, you usually name ships,   so does the canoe have a name? uh this one  you'd have to ask these guys that signed it uh,   back in the day, so this was a ultimate name with  their themselves but uh we could just call it the   winner for this year. the winner. all right,  there's no trash talking at all. all right,  

so you're talking about concrete that floats,  which is something that a lot of people may   not realize is even possible, so you have a little  demonstration here for us. yeah so a lot of people   would say you know when you think concrete's  heavy, it's maybe when pick it up, and   even at 300 pounds, or the ones we had--five,  six hundred pounds, some people still say,   "how does that float on water?" well, it's more of  how many pounds per cubic foot it has to weigh. so   this one right here is about 55 pounds per cubic  foot. this is a cylinder from uh from this year.   uh thursday's group. so i'm just going to put it  in the fish tank here and we'll show you that,  

actually, this is how the concrete canoe is  floating on water. we actually have to use   a lot of lightweight aggregates to get it to  float uh in water. that's amazing! so you do   have like bobbing for concrete competitions,  things like that? that would be something   we'll have to bring into a future year. trying to  partner with a dental school! yeah, there we go.  

so looking at more of the the fun side  of the classroom lab for concrete tech,   maybe next we will go look at some of the the  services that we offer for industry with research   and testing and so i think dawn stone  is going to join me again. perfect. dawn stone has joined me once again in probably  the most impressive classroom of sorts at alpena   community college. this really goes to our whole  history at alpena community college, which,   of course, the land that we sit on was donated by  jesse besser, so we've come full-circle and we're   now here at the besser block making workshop  room, or what, what do we call it? that's   actually a pretty good description. so one of the  things that we do here at the wcct is we train   block makers from across the world to become  the best block makers they can be, because,   as you mentioned, before, you know that our entire  world is built on concrete block. but unless that  

concrete block is made properly, you know, with  the correct additives and the correct mix design,   it's not going to hold up all of our buildings,  right, so the classes we bring people in from   across the world and we have a lot of time in the  classroom to talk about some of the technicalities   of what makes a good block but then it's  really important for all these people to   be able to apply what they've learned in  the classroom so through the generosity of   besser company and a lot of other partners we  actually have a fully operational full-scale   besser block machine here i'm not sure people  realize that this whole room is a block machine   in essence so the partnership that we have with  besser not only goes back to our history and their   philanthropy but it also goes to our future and  producing the the highest quality block makers   not just internally with our concrete tech program  but people come here as you said from all over the   world so it's very impressive and how often do  we get folks that that come here for the workshop   so we do one-week classes and we run about  six in the fall and about six in the spring   so you know we usually have 10 to 10  to 20 students in each of the classes   so we've actually you know over the  years trained a lot of block makers on   on utilizing this equipment so it's really  a neat endeavor because you know we we live   in a very fairly rural area and so to have this  partnership with besser and to be able to bring   folks in from across the world is really a  wonderful you know economic development and   you know cultural development it's it's been  a fantastic experience and i look forward to   continuing that well let's talk to some of  the people who make this all run sounds good i'm joined by andrew morris who is what's your job  title technical service representative at besser   yes and you just graduated from alpena community  college's concrete tech program when uh just this   past month couple weeks ago a couple weeks ago  yeah and you immediately got a job with besser yes   and you're back here at alpena community college  so andrew i know you just started just a few   days ago working for besser um and you haven't  really gotten your feet wet but for acc i know   you're kind of in charge of maintaining the block  machine here um and so for besser you'll be doing   kind of the same thing yeah kind of the same  thing here at acc i do help maintain and keep   the place clean for for visitors and whatnot um  but actually at besser we will be traveling and   and going to help uh replace parts or fix fix and  help teach to operate the actual block machine   so how long did it take you do you do you know  what all this stuff does at this point this isn't   great no not all of it no but you'll learn yeah  i'm learning yeah slowly so i detect an accent   so where are you from north carolina so what  brought you to alpena and what made you choose   to go so far away from home to start a concrete  tech program in northern michigan um my wife is   actually from oscoda so we moved here and then  i found out about the program and i was really   interested so i came and how do you feel that  the program here prepared you for your career   in concrete tech um halfway through uh both both  of the years you get to do a summer internship   program and you you interview like you're getting  an actual job and you get to choose either if you   go ready mix or block and i chose to go the the  block route and i went i worked with old castle   in uh castle hanging north carolina and i learned  a lot there i actually worked inside the plant and   i i got to test a little blocks oh that's neat  yep i learned a lot so well soon you're going to   learn a lot more about block making and you'll  be teaching others so we're thrilled to have a   partnership with besser it's a continuing  relationship that alpena community college   enjoys and i think it's a reciprocal relationship  obviously getting to use this facility to train   block makers all over the world and soon you're  going to be a part of that and we're very proud   to have you as lumberjack thank you a lot of  people don't know that there are three aspects   to the world center for concrete technology  obviously there's the educational component   with our associate's degree at alpena community  college then there is the block makers workshop   and finally there's research and testing and we  do that for outside businesses they come to us   even governmental entities we do testing for and  don stone is joining me again to talk a little bit   more about that program which a lot of people  don't know about at alpine community college   right so you know we saw the black plant and  one component of the testing is that we will   actually rent out the block plant to companies  and they'll put different additives and things   into their concrete mix run it through the block  machine create block and then we test those for   strength and absorption and freeze and thaw  capacity those kind of things so we also help   local businesses and regional businesses when they  cast cylinders they'll bring those to us and we'll   put them here in this chamber to um you know to  cure and then we'll test those for things like   strength and absorption and um you know just make  sure that the concrete that they're pouring out in   the field meets the specs necessary to keep us all  safe nobody wants a road or a bridge that is built   with concrete that's not strong enough well and  i think that's something that all of us take for   granted you just think well you have the building  materials you use them as directed and you get   the end result but it's really important to make  sure that what you're using is safe and effective   and that is something obviously we all want as  citizens and alpena community college is able to   offer that so we have the curing chamber tell  me about the curing chamber this is a little   intimidating so the curing chamber is where we put  our our cylinders and allow the concrete to cure   and it's kept at a certain temperature in a  certain relative humid humidity so that you   know it's it all is like the perfect environment  for concrete so then we can test it and make sure   that it's going to be above what we need it  to be so that it stays strong out in the field   so we have the curing chamber behind us and it's  kind of intimidating looking curing chamber says   it's 70 degrees fahrenheit 95 percent relative  humidity and i'm assuming that is the ideal   conditions for concrete to cure so what does  it look like in there well it's it is a chamber it's a chamber of secrets it's always kept damp  and it's always kept warm you know so it stands to   reason that it wouldn't be the most the prettiest  you know of environments but it certainly   serves the purpose of keeping the concrete at us  at the ideal you know situation so yeah yeah so   opinion community college several years ago was  awarded a national science foundation grant which   is a big deal for anyone but especially on the  community college level so can you tell me a   little bit about what the grant afforded us to do  absolutely so yeah the national science foundation   has historically only issued research and  development grants to large research universities   so this was kind of a this was a huge deal for  us to be awarded this national science foundation   grant and what the project was was to identify  whether or not carbon could could be sequestered   from concrete so one of the issues of course is  the release of carbon into the environment and   so and concrete does release a lot of carbon and  that's unfortunate so the research project had to   do with whether or not they could sequester  that car that carbon from concrete block so   we actually ran the block in the black plant  and then built a carbon sequestration machine   so it kind of sucked it out it did okay and then  we tested the black to make sure that it would   stay strong so it was kind of a nice synergy it  was a you know a whole process of of making block   be more environmentally friendly we received  some awards for it it was it was very cool   that's so neat and what a feather in our cap that  as a community college we were able to do that   and do it so well right absolutely so  a lot of people think that the concrete   technology program is just all hands-on stuff  you're pouring concrete you're testing things   in the in the lab that we saw earlier but in  actuality there's a lot of classroom study that   backs up all of that hands-on knowledge we have to  have a classroom knowledge first i would imagine   so i guess i'd really like to know what makes  the concrete tech program so unique here at   alpena community college i think it's so unique  because i mean we give everybody a little bit of   taste of industry you know you do a summer  internship between your first and second year   which gets you ready we come back with some now so  we can really you know talk about some things that   you saw and maybe you didn't understand it we can  talk about a little bit more we can talk about in   the classroom we you know we're more a material  science you know into things where we don't get   out there and we'll teach you how to finish flat  work if that's what you want to do but we're more   into mix design you know specifications doing  some middles things that are behind the scenes   that sometimes you don't see in a lot of big  projects so we get you ready for to go into many   different parts of that industry and it's the  things that really make concrete buildings safe   effective have quality products obviously besser  is second to none when it comes to block making   a concrete masonry and that's something that we  specialize in here at alpena community college   and i i know that it may be a surprise to  people to see us in a classroom and also such   a technologically advanced classroom you've been  able to use virtual learning i know during the   covet shutdown and we'll probably integrate that  into your into your program at large yeah so we uh   we you know it isn't a perfect world but it's  it's more than what we could do before we had   this technology you know before people go home you  do youtube videos they watch them now we can you   know have them right up on the screen we can talk  to them uh as as if they're almost sitting in the   classroom so now you know silver lining to it  all is now we can get outreach to a lot of high   schools that are out there that want to know  more about what is concrete technology what is   utility tech what are these programs here offered  at acc we can offer our intro to concrete to these   high schools out there virtually which i'll be  teaching in the fall here uh two three classes   in the inland lakes and rogers city couple area  outreaches around here that we have and then they   can see you know what are we really about here  and then so they can possibly get signed up for   the program that interests them so it's kind  of silver lining of all this you know we can   get guest speakers to come in we can do virtual  tours you know with this technology now uh there   is some benefits to it for us and it is that  silver lining of the the covid shutdown that we   discovered new ways of teaching new ways of  learning that we'll be able to integrate into   all of our programs here at acc and it's neat to  see us be able to do that with our premier program   concrete technology yeah definitely. so what kind  of careers do we really prepare students for once   they go through the concrete technology  program here at alpena community college?   so there's an array of different jobs as i  kind of mentioned before you know we kind of   give everybody just kind of footprint and door  to different parts of the industry that are   available out there so if you want to go work  at a anybody that works down the road you see   an mdot truck out there you see a consultant some  engineering firms out there most of those are our   past grads you know they're going to come back and  they're going to interview our students as they   you know get to the company come back and that's  just one of the job opportunities you know besser   company any kind of old castle parts that are all  in the block industry you know that's out there   precast concrete which we have a class on so  that's anything that's pre-made in a facility   then it gets tilted up you know so any kind of  quality experience quality control you know stuff   like that a lot of people are into um so a lot of  different job opportunities as well as you know   everything that goes into concrete a cement you  know the aggregates the ad-mixtures all that   has to be tested in some way shape or form if you  like to go into sales if you like to work indoors   outdoors you know a lot of the instructors always  likes to say take a map in the united states   throw a dart at it and you can find a job  anywhere out there and any different parts   if you like indoors outdoors if you're a people  person if you're not uh we got all kinds of jobs   that are going to suit you and that's what this  board represents these are all job opportunities   for the graduates of alpena community college's  concrete tech program and i think this is really   the best testament to the quality of our program  here that employers are seeking out our students   they know that they're going to get an employee  that has a high quality education that has the   knowledge that they need to be successful in  the field and and this really says it all yeah   this is uh so this is one of the boards that we're  seeing here we got another board they're usually   usually both hanging on the floor full and yeah  this is usually something people see when they   come in and they their eyes you know open up and  they light up and this is just some of the jobs   where like you said people are coming here  to interview our students you know probably   on average 30 companies come here a year just to  just to uh you know interview our students one   one of our students this year had 12 job offers  coming out of the program you know so a lot of   these jobs on here they're taking multiple people  if they can too and people do summer internships   these are internships plus full-time jobs so  they might be taking three four some companies   come in they would hire every single person  that if they could you know 15 20 30 people   uh there's that much need out in the industry for  people so so jobs are out there for for everybody   so looking at this job board obviously  alpena community college graduates are in   high demand in the industry why is that what is  the the edge that acc students have that maybe   other students from other programs don't so uh we  offer here oh after you get done with your first   year we teach a mix design class which we teach  about mix designs a little bit but a lot of it   is getting you ready for your aci and mca level  one certification so what do those stand for   just so now michigan concrete association and  american concrete institute offer certifications   so if you live in a state you got to get michigan  certified if you you know like i work for a la   farge we're a world nationwide company i only have  to be american concrete institute certified so we   can get those we offer those certifications here  mca hope kind of host it and they come right on   site here and then we get the certification done  right towards the end of the school year for our   students which they come right here so most people  have to go down to lansing have to pay you know   probably a thousand dollars for the certification  our students get it at a deep discount so it's 200   up front if you pass certification you get another  hundred dollars back that includes all your books   binders so you basically pay a hundred dollars for  the binders and that's something we have through   the mca where they offer scholarships  up here they give us a discount on the   we just have a good working relationship  with the michigan concrete association   so it's certainly impressive and i know people  who are watching maybe they know someone who's   about to make a choice about where to go to  college or they're thinking about changing   careers if they have questions about the concrete  tech program here at alpena community college   who do they reach out to yeah so you can reach  out to me eric kennedy or tim onswater one of   the two instructors here you can go on  acc's website you can go to programs you   can go under concrete technology there's  my email there there's tim's email there   you can sit through you can see the curriculum  what's going to get taught and there's a lot of   good information on there that you can find well  thank you so much for joining us and and educating   me especially and all of our alumni and viewers  about the concrete technology program here at the   world center for concrete technology at alpina  community college yes thank you thank you for   joining us for a look at what the world center  for concrete technology offers wcct represents   an innovative mutually beneficial partnership  between the college and private business the   concrete industry's continued investment in alpena  community college has resulted in a steady supply   of highly educated concrete professionals who  go on to become both concrete industry customers   and employees the wcct is the only research  facility in the world with a state-of-the-art   computer-controlled besser v312 concrete masonry  production plant which concrete professionals   from all over the globe visit to gain master block  maker certification these unique features are part   of what makes the world center for concrete  technology at alpena community college so   respected throughout the global concrete industry  community if you'd like to arrange a tour of wcct   contact me acc director of alumni relations  mary egan by emailing alumni alpenacc.edu

2021-11-29 02:52

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