Research Group on Structural Engineering

Polytechnique Montréal, Montréal, Québec
What the facility does

Experimentally studies of major civil engineering behaviours

Areas of expertise

This is the largest and most versatile structural engineering laboratory in Canada. It consists of 2 testing slabs with an area of 630 m2 and a reaction wall with 2 wings 10 m high and 12 m long. The laboratory can do static, dynamic, seismic and impact testing. Loads can vary between 100 kN and 12,000 kN. Loading equipment can be set up to apply compression and tension forces from 1, 2 or 3 directions simultaneously. The laboratory has 9 independent monitoring stations, which means that several test programs can be carried out concurrently. Two of these systems have been designed for hybrid simulations, which involve laboratory tests carried out interactively with an analysis of the entire structure.

Research services
  • Testing static and dynamic loads on very large structural components (beams / posts / walls / frames / assemblies etc.)
  • Dynamic seismic testing of structural components and seismic protection equipment
  • Digital simulations (analyses) and hybrid simulations (tests-analysis) involving structures and structural components under static and dynamic loads
  • Development/validation and qualification of new structural systems
Sectors of application
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Transportation

Specialized lab




Hydraulic power supply


1 hydraulic unit, capacity 1,360 lpm, with 10 distribution points



1 hydraulic unit, capacity 114 lpm, with 2 distribution points



1 distribution unit with accumulators, 3,000 lpm



1 accumulator unit, 3,000 lpm (no HSM)



2 distribution units with accumulators, 1,500 lpm



1 distribution unit with accumulators, 900 lpm



6 distribution units, 380 lpm



2 distribution units, 140 lpm


High-performance seismic simulator

Drawing dimensions: 3.4 m ×
3.4 m



Load-bearing capacity (specimens): 15 tonnes



Independent mass system: 60 tonnes



Frequencies: 0-50 Hz



Max displacement: ± 125 mm



Max acceleration: ± 5 g (empty); ± 2 g (full load)



Max inversion moment: 680 kN m (full load)



1 press, 12 MN tension-compression capacity, 500 mm stroke, force or stroke monitoring, 1.5 MN flexion capacity, test space 3 m wide x 8 m high



1 press, 2.5 MN tension-compression capacity, 250 mm stroke, 1.5 MN hydraulic jaws, test space 0.82 m wide x 2.1 m high (1.5 m between jaws), force or stroke monitoring



1 press, 4.5 MN compression capacity, 100 mm stroke, test space 0.6 m wide x 4.0 high, force monitoring



1 press, 1.0 MN tension-compression capacity, 150 mm stroke, 0.4 m wide x
1.0 m high, force monitoring



4 static jacks, 2,000 kN compression/1,800 kN tension capacity, static, 600 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



1 dynamic jack, 1,500 kN tension-compression capacity, 300 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



5 dynamic jacks, 1,000 kN tension-compression capacity, 750 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



2 dynamic jacks, 1,000 kN tension and compression capacity, 500 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



2 static jacks, 650 MN compression/445 MN tension capacity, 750 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



2 static jacks, 365 kN compression/240 kN tension capacity, 500 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



1 dynamic jack, 250 kN capacity, 300 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



1 dynamic jack, 100 kN capacity, 250 mm stroke, force and stroke monitoring



Combination of 12 static jacks, 500 kN (2), 250 kN (2), 100 kN (4), 50 kN (2), 25 kN (2) compression capacity, force monitoring



Combination of 4 static jacks, 900 kN compression capacity, portable, 160 mm stroke, force monitoring



Combination of 2 static jacks, 1,000 kN compression capacity, portable, 250 mm stroke, force monitoring


Monitoring systems

3 units, MTS Flextest GT 493 with 2 satellite stations



2 units, MTS Flextest 200-494 with 1 satellite station



1 unit, MTS 469D / STS for hybrid tests


Environmental chambers


Environmental chambers, 5 x 7 x 3 m, for controlled temperature and humidity tests



1 chamber, 0.3 m x 0.6 m x 0.6 m, temperature +80/-50°C, may be installed in the test presses

Concrete laboratory

1 mixer, 140 l



1 mixer, 60 l



1 mixer, 10 l



Conventional concrete saw






Wet chamber



Freezing and thawing apparatus



Measuring and data acquisition instruments

LVDT displacement transducers



String Potentiometer displacement transducers



Linear Potentiometer displacement transducers



Magnetostrictive (Temposonics) displacement transducers



Linear Encoder (Heidenhain) displacement transducers






Extensometer, large-scale deformations



PI Extensometers



Velocity sensors






Load cells



Pressure sensors



Pendulum and MEMS inclinometers



4 high-speed HBM MGC Plus acquisition systems totalling 200 channels



1 high-speed HBM MGC Plus portable acquisition system totalling 32 channels



1 optic fiber acquisition system totalling 12 channels



2 high-speed OPTIM Megadac acquisition systems totalling 76 channels



3 low-speed acquisition systems (static tests) totalling 100 channels



1 autonomous acquisition system for flow/withdrawal totalling 54 channels


Other equipment

1 pulsator enabling 120 to 600 cycles/minute load frequencies, force monitoring

1 travelling crane, lifting capacity 25/5 tonnes

1 travelling crane, lifting capacity 15 tonnes

1 travelling crane, lifting capacity 2 x 5 tonnes

1 travelling crane, lifting capacity 10 tonnes


  • Hydro-Québec
  • Groupe Canam
  • SNC-Lavalin
  • Acier Gendron
  • Dywidag
  • Cima+
  • MTS System Corp.
  • Instron Corp.



Radio-Canada, Découverte, 8 May 2011, Le génie parasismique (Earthquake Engineering)

Earthquake engineers have to design buildings that resist structural damage during an earthquake. Even though the mission appears very difficult, even impossible, the engineers and researchers at Polytechnique Montréal are already testing a new structural concept that prevents buildings from collapsing and maintains their functionality. Report by journalists Claude D’Astous and Pierre Tonietto

Télé-Québec, Le Code Chastenay, Émission 38, Tremblements de terre : sauver les vies ... et les meubles (Earthquakes: Saving lives… and movables)

Scientists at Polytechnique Montréal have been developing new ways of minimizing structural damage during earthquakes. Their innovation: the seismic fuse