Materials Testing At

As in Britain and Europe the American universities also set up their own materials testing laboratories. One in particular was that at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This particular university is of interest in the present context because of the meticulous records of tests on wrought-iron that were made there in the 1880's and 90's.

The mechanical engineering laboratory at M.I.T was established in 1883 by Gaetano Lanza. "Lanzawas born in Boston in 1848. His father was an Italian count

Figure 3. United States Testing Machine at Watertown Arsenal (The Engineer 1890).

who went to America as a teacher of languages. His mother was from Vermont. Gaetano Lanza received his education at the University of Virginia where his father held the chair of professor of languages. Following his graduation in 1870 Gaetano Lanza became an assistant instructor of mathematics at the University of Virginia but resigned in 1872 to take up a position as instructor at M.I.T. He taught mathematics for a short time, but soon began to teach mechanics, becoming professor of theoretical and applied mechanics in 1875" (The Tech 1925).

In 1883 Lanza was put in charge of the department of mechanical engineering and immediately began a considerable expansion of the mechanical engineering laboratories. He was particularly interested in the testing of full size structural members (Lanza 1912). At M.I.T. Lanza had a Fairbanks testing machine of 50,000 lbs capacity which besides being used for making tensile tests on iron and wire rope, could be adapted in such a way as to enable full size beams to be tested for transverse strength and deflection. The allowable spans were up to 25 feet. (Lanza 1887)

Lanza retired from M.I.T in 1911 but for a number of years after this he was associated with the Baldwin Locomotive works in Philadelphia, where his expertise in full size mechanical testing was required (The Tech 1925). M.I.T.'s test records are now being used in the present research on wrought-iron.

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