The mission of PCI Research and Development includes identifying, funding, and executing programs necessary to advance the industry and disseminating the results of these projects. The PCI Research and Development Council works toward this mission in three ways:

  • Fellowships
  • Specially funded projects
  • Collaboration with other research entities.

The R&D Council maintains a list of research needs of the industry. This list is primarily for the benefit of fellowship applicants, but is available for any researcher interested in precast or precast, prestressed concrete. Members are also encouraged to submit new ideas for research when knowledge gaps are identified.

PCI Research and Development has several projects that are in progress or that have been recently completed. The following is a partial list of those projects:

Ultra-High-Performance Concrete - Implementation of UHPC in long span precast, pretensioned elements for buildings and bridges.

Insulated Wall Panel Wythe Connector Testing Protocol - Primary project objectives include developing a basic unified test methodology for load-deformation characteristics of wythe connections and establishing guidelines for test specimens, testing procedures, and data processing protocols that can be readily conducted at any testing facility.

0.6-in. Prestressing Strand Lifting Loops - Building upon a successful Dennis R. Mertz Bridge Research Fellowship, project seeks to expand the existing experimental testing database and develop comprehensive criteria for use of 0.6-in. strands as lifting loops.

Seismic Drift Compatibility of Architectural Precast Concrete Panels and Connections: A Design Guide for Engineers – A five story, full scale building was tested on the shake table at the University of California San Diego. The two top stories were clad with precast concrete panels. There were three objectives for examining the performance of the panels; sliding connections, flexing connections, and corner joints. PCI appreciates that significant funding for this project was provided by the Charles Pankow Foundation. As a result of the research, a design guide was prepared with recommendations that address the three objectives. The design guide is available for download. A video of the shake table testing may also be viewed at the on University of California San Diego's website

Diaphragm Seismic Design Methodology – This project was recently completed by a consortium of the University of Arizona, Lehigh University, and the University of California San Diego. The project goal was to better understand the behavior of precast concrete diaphragms subject to earthquake forces. The work included testing of connections, analysis incorporating connection behavior, and a one-half scale shake table test. The design methodology developed is being considered for codification by the Building Seismic Safety Council and for acceptance by the ICC Evaluation Service.

Rational Design Methodology for Slender Spandrels – Current design requirements include use of closed stirrups for torsion in spandrels subject to eccentric load such as those commonly used in parking structures. The research determined that the behavior of these spandrels was primarily out of plane bending and closed stirrups are not required. Two papers describing the research and the resulting design methodology are available- Part 1: Experimental Results and Part 2: Analysis and Design Guidelines. ACI 318-14 will include an exception on closed stirrups for spandrels meeting certain criteria.

Precision Statement for ASTM A1061 – This interlaboratory study was conducted at the University of Kansas to quantify the precision of ASTM A1061, Standard Test Methods for Testing Multi-wire Steel Prestressing Strand. The results were used to examine how the methods are implemented in practice and how precise the results are when the methods are implemented correctly. The final paper may be viewed here.

Results of Research

Reports submitted to PCI take several forms. Specially funded project reports are reviewed in depth by the industry advisory committee that was assigned to the project by the Research and Development Council. Such reviews are for conformance to the project scope, quality of the report, and documentation for the conclusions. The conclusions are the opinions of the authors and PCI does not assume responsibility for use of the research results.

Research conducted under the fellowship program is normally done by a student seeking a master's degree or doctorate. A report may be simply a copy of the thesis generated by the student, or a more in-depth report if the fellowship was part of a larger project. These reports are also reviewed by the industry advisory committee assigned to the project, but the standard of quality is not as high as the expectations for a report resulting from specially-funded research. As previously stated, PCI does not assume responsibility for use of the research results.

All specially-funded research projects and some of the fellowship projects result in papers submitted to the PCI Journal. These papers are subject to peer review and are published in the public domain. The complete reports may be found in the Members Only section on the website.