As part of their required curriculum, undergraduate students in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas take a course that studies the materials commonly used in the construction of buildings, bridges, highways, and the like. This course is titled CVEG 2113 - Structural Materials. A focal point for this course is the examination of concrete, its production, engineering properties, and uses in structures.
Since concrete can be delivered to a job site while still in a workable form, it is often necessary to perform a series of tests on the “fresh” material prior to its placement in a structure. Prior to the mid-1980's results from the field testing of concrete were often dubious. In an effort to improve the quality of testing, and thus the reliability and accuracy of the test data, organizations such as the American Concrete Institute (ACI) initiated programs to certify field testing technicians. With the students in CVEG 2113 already receiving instruction relative to testing, as well as having the opportunity to perform the applicable tests in the laboratory, it quickly became evident that ACI certification could, and should, be incorporated into the course syllabus. Being certified adds a tangible skill to a student's resume thus making the student more marketable for summer and long-term employment. The concrete industry benefits from an increased pool of highly qualified engineers. The Department of Civil Engineering benefits from an enhanced reputation from the perspective of both the students and industry.