© 2012-2013 by Stephen L. Keefe
Top Innovators: U.S. Government
Tappan Zee Bridge in New York
The Materials Engineering and Research Laboratory (MERL), operating under the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, possesses a formidable array of civil engineering testing resources. Using its many laboratories based in the Denver Federal Center, the MERL conducts innovative research to support the Bureau's mission of providing water and power to much of the American West through its 600 dams and reservoirs, as well as its canals and powerplants. The Bureau of Reclamation began construction of this vast network of infrastructure at the start of the twentieth century, completing such public works as the Hoover Dam, and continues to use this infrastructure to marshal the water resources of the West to meet ever-increasing hydrological demands.
Situated in McLean, Virginia, the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, encompassing a cluster of research laboratories falling under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), conducts research to promote innovation in U.S. infrastructure. Using the resources of Turner-Fairbank, the FHWA conducts research across the full spectrum of civil engineering, from geotechnical studies to bridge-testing and pavement studies, to support the technological improvement of the U.S. interstate highway system.
The Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), a part of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, operates numerous research laboratories working to make technical advances to support national infrastructure and defense. Some key laboratories falling under the ERDC include the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) and the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL), designed to advance military infrastructure supporting national security.