Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories

Thanks to the vision, perseverance and generosity of  faculty member Adel S. “Tony” Saada and some of his former students and other alumni, the  state-of-the-art undergraduate and graduate geotechnical engineering laboratories opened in the 2016-2017 academic year.


In 1962, the year after he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, Adel S. “Tony” Saada joined the Civil Engineering Department at Case Institute of Technology. At that time, he began building a program in geotechnical engineering, including a teaching and research soil mechanics laboratory.

Now, nearly thirty years later, a renovated suite of geotechnical engineering laboratories will further enhance the status of Case Western Reserve University’s geotechnical engineering program. This development will serve not only as a testimony to Dr. Saada’s personal vision for and financial support of his lab, but also as a legacy from him and his family and many former students. Together, these and other contributions will continue and advance the program’s status as a top national presence in geotechnical engineering.

Frank Gerace Geotechnical Teaching Laboratory. The overall project cost was just over $1 million dollars, according to David Zeng, the Frank H. Neff Professor Chair of Civil Engineering. Most of this money was raised through donations from alumni and friends.

“Without the funding from the Gerstacker Foundation on behalf of Frank Gerace ’48 [and other gifts detailed below], the geotechnical laboratories [renovation] would not have been possible,” Professor Zeng noted. The Frank Gerace Geotechnical Teaching Laboratory commemorates Gerace’s career as a civil engineer and his determination to change the world “from the ground up.”

Warren Gibson Library. Another alumni donor, Warren Gibson ’65, MS ’69, PhD ’71, who gave significantly to the project, stated that Dr. Saada has had a profound influence on him. Many volumes from Dr. Saada’s personal collection of engineering books will grace the shelves of the Warren Gibson Library, part of the Geotechnical Graduate Research Laboratory. Funding for student offices was provided by Frank Rausche, PhD ’70 and the family of Albert Higley ’17.

Graduate Research Labs. Also included in the project are four graduate student labs. These labs are named for the Saada family and for Dr. Saada’s son Richard, in recognition of lab renovation support as well as extended student support via the Saada Family Graduate Student Fellowships.

Zeng noted that the new geotechnical engineering facility will have a profound effect on the department and the program overall.

“When we show the labs to potential students and parents, they are all very impressed,” Zeng said. “This is going to have a huge impact on both education and recruiting of undergraduate students, as well as in attracting the best graduate students and future faculty members.”


The Geotechnical Lab Ribbon-Cutting and Dedication was held Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend.  With undergraduate enrollment in civil engineering nearly doubled in recent years, the increased space with improved facilities and equipment are clearly needed.