by Daniel Fetsko ’19 CE
One of the many benefits of Villanova University being located in a major metropolitan area is its close proximity to thousands of large companies. Add to that the University’s highly regarded engineering program with a history of successful alumni, and the result is invaluable partnerships with national firms like Girder-Slab Technologies LLC. Co-founded by Civil Engineering alumnus Peter Naccarato ’65 and headquartered in New Jersey, Girder-Slab developed an innovative technique of steel-frame, multi-story residential building construction that has evolved from a long-term partnership with the College of Engineering.
In 2009, the relationship began when Girder-Slab approached the College about testing a sample of its system in the Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory (SETRL) directed by Civil Engineering Professor Joseph Yost, PhD, PE. The company asked Villanova engineers to evaluate its unique system and determine its engineering properties. In 2011, Girder-Slab returned with a follow-up testing project. Although the system had previously been proven successful and implemented in a number of projects, according to Managing Partner Daniel Fisher the research done at Villanova helped make the system 20 percent more cost-effective and more flexible to design. More recently, in 2012, the College developed a design spreadsheet for the company based on the previous testing. That spreadsheet was updated in 2014. Girder-Slab supported the College’s work on these four projects with more than $150,000.
SETRL consulting work is managed by Shawn P. Gross, PhD, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Gross attended September’s annual Steel Day in Philadelphia, where the Girder-Slab system was highlighted by the American Institute of Steel Construction. In recent years, the company has grown dramatically and Dr. Gross notes, “The research and development done at Villanova have had an impact on that growth.” The numbers agree with him—in the six years since the research began, Girder-Slab has surpassed its total number of buildings from the previous nine years (1999–2008). Dr. Gross and the College of Engineering look forward to continuing this partnership, which not only serves the company, but also benefits students who have the opportunity for real-world, hands-on experience with research and the design process.