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Minnesota's MAST System is capable of delivering 1.32 million pounds of vertical force, which is enough to support the full weight of the double-decker Airbus A380 Superjumbo Jet, currently the world's largest passenger airliner, fully occupied and fueled.

Tours of the lab are held on the fourth Thursday of every month between 12 pm and 2 pm. If you will be in the Minneapolis area and are interested in participating, please contact us one week in advance to register for a tour.

MAST Laboratory
2525 4th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612-626-9561 main
612-624-5964 fax

Dept. of Civil Engineering
500 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612-625-5522 main
612-626-7750 fax

MAST Laboratory Overview

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The University of Minnesota’s Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) Laboratory, the largest of its kind in the world, provides a powerful tool for investigating the effects of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other extreme events on large structural components up to several stories tall.

Key features of the MAST facility include:

  • Sophisticated six degrees-of-freedom (DOF) control system that enables application of complex multi-directional deformation or loading schemes to structural subassemblages.
  • Ability to apply large loads and deformations to test large-scale structural subassemblages including portions of beam-column frame systems, walls, tanks, and bridge piers
  • High capacity data acquisition system for collecting sensor information and three-dimensional positional information via optical measuring system.
  • State-of-the-art, remotely-controllable telepresence capabilities including capturing of high resolution images and streaming of collected sensor, video and audio data to enable remote collaboration and detailed documentation of damage progression.

Major Equipment

MAST System

MAST System

Integrated with advanced 6-DOF control technology and using high-capacity hydraulic actuators, the MAST System positions the 94,000 lb (42,638 kg), rigid steel crosshead as a plane in space, which make it possible to apply triaxial control to the test structure and also to apply planar translations to planar substructures. The system features mixed-mode control, allowing users to specify the position or force required for each of the DOFs and the amount of time required to achieve them quasi-statically.

A test typically takes several days to complete. The MAST Lab can test structures up to 28.75 ft (8.6m) in height and 20 x 20 ft (6.1 x 6.1 m) in plan. The MAST System delivers up to 1.32 million lbs (5,900 kN) of force vertically, and up to 880,000 lbs (3,900 kN) of force horizontally.

To learn more, please see MAST system.

MAST Data Acquisition System (DAQ)

Data Acquisition

The MAST Data Acquisition System (DAQ) is capable of simultaneously sampling 172 channels of ±10V voltage input and 248 channels of quarter bridge 120ohm strain gage input at a rate of up to 10Hz. Feedback is collected from the hydraulic actuators, and optical measuring hardware collects three-dimensional positional information.

The MAST Lab provides researchers with a wide array of sensors, including LVDTs, string potentiometers, tiltmeters, three-dimensional positional LEDs and load cells.

To learn more, please see Data Acquisition and Instrumentation.

Telepresence System

The MAST facility provides extensive telepresence capabilities to support both documentation of experiments and also remote collaboration. On-site and remote collaborators are each able to participate fully in experiments through control of camera devices and information flow. Real-time data streaming is available anywhere in the world with access to a high-speed Internet connection.

To learn more, please see Telepresence and Control Room.


Research Projects

The MAST Laboratory welcomes university researchers and private companies interested in conducting large-scale testing and simulations of structural systems subjected to earthquakes, wind and other extreme loadings. Its equipment enables evaluation of existing structures, investigation of the effects of retrofitting those systems, and evaluation of new systems and materials.

The multi-directional capabilities of the MAST System allow for testing a wide variety of specimens, including but not limited to:

  • Beam-Column Joints. Typical beam-column specimens might represent the foundation to the second story, with inflection points assumed to occur at midheight of the columns and midspan of the floors. Movement of the top of the column could be controlled by the crosshead, with the lower story column anchored to a foundation block, and ancillary actuators used to control the story elevation of beam ends.
  • Multi-story Frames. A variety of multi-story multi-bay two- or three-dimensional structural frames can be tested. The ancillary actuators can provide supplemental lateral loads at the individual intermediate story levels or supplemental gravity loads to the floor systems.
  • Walls. Walls can be subjected to prescribed bi-axial lateral drifts. At the same time, mixed-mode control with slaving can be imposed to achieve the desired axial load and moment-to-shear ratio at the boundaries in the two orthogonal directions. Out-of-plane degrees of freedom can be controlled to test planar behavior.

For examples of past, current and future tests, please see Projects.