Senior Project Web Page

Automated Triaxial Test

Department of Electrical Engineering

at the

University of Texas at El Paso

Fall 1999-Spring 2000 Senior Project Design



The project consists of automating the triaxial soil test at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Civil Engineering (CE) Department. Dr. Nazarian an Associate Professor in the UTEP Civil Engineering Department presented the project to us. Our team name is the Circuit Breakers and the team members are Irene Guajardo, Joe Rangel and Abad Zapien. We are senior Electrical Engineering (EE) students at UTEP.

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Team Members


Joe Rangel

Abad Zapien

Irene Guajardo

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Once a soil sample is removed from a soil mass, all of the horizontal and vertical stresses acting on the soil are removed, therefore a confining pressure must be added. The confining pressure is obtained by imposing a compressive stress on either a fluid or gas (air) that completely surrounds the soil specimen. Therefore, the objective of the triaxial test is to apply an all-around equal pressure and determine the shear strength of the soil.

The current method used to find the shear strength of a soil specimen by the Civil Engineering (CE) department is very time consuming and tedious. Currently, mechanical gauges are being used to measure the shear strength of a soil specimen. Therefore, by automating the current method much time and money will be saved. The automation will be accomplished using several different software and hardware instruments. These include: (1) Labview used to graphically program data acquisition, (2) a load cell used to find the axial (vertical) pressure on the specimen, (3) an optical encoder used to find the vertical displacement of the specimen, (4) a series of regulators and pressure transducers to determine the amount of air or water pressure and (5) a data acquisition (DAQ) card used as a connection between the hardware output signals and the software input signals.

The triaxial test will be automated to the fullest extent possible. All required measurements and calculations will be monitored and recorded so as to eliminate consistent user monitoring. Project progress will be monitored throu gh weekly team and sponsor meetings and review of Gantt chart. The anticipated cost (direct) in the automation of the triaxial test will be approximately $1200.

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