About the Purdue H2O Laboratory

The Christopher and Susan Burke Hydraulics and Hydrology Laboratory (known affectionately at Purdue as "the H2O lab") was officially dedicated on October 16, 2010. Named in honor of Christopher and Susan Burke for their generous gift that made the laboratory possible, the lab is located in the School of Civil Engineering building on Purdue's West Lafayette campus, and encompasses more than 13,000 square feet of research, teaching, and outreach space. The laboratory includes the following, which embody the lab's long term vision of integrating research, teaching, and engagement:

  • G.V. Loganathan Waterfall: The laboratory's most visible feature is a stunning, 3-story waterfall named in honor of G.V. Loganathan, a water resources faculty member at Virginia Tech University who perished in the 2007 campus shootings there. Dr. Loganathan received his Ph.D. from Purdue under Professor Emeritus Jack Delleur and was a graduate school classmate of Dr. Christopher Burke (Ph.D. 1983, MSCE 1979, BSCE 1977) at Purdue. Flowing into the wet classroom, the waterfall serves as a reminder of the continuum between research, teaching, and engagement.
  • A.R. Rao Sensor-Based Wet Classroom: Dedicated to former Purdue Professor A.R. Rao, the wet classroom was made possible with a generous gift from Robert Shanks (BSCE 1975, MSCE 1976). This hybrid laboratory-lecture classroom is designed to allow for hands-on engineering education in water subjects, and includes a special water feature for weir demonstrations, a wet bench, and will ultimately house additional teaching equipment for Purdue's civil engineering water subjects (primarily hydraulics and hydrology courses).
  • Water Visualization Studio: This 2-story, glass-walled visualization studio - framed by the Loganathan Waterfall - is designed to showcase high-performance computer simulations of fluid flow produced at Purdue. The room has a "tiled wall" - a collection of high-resolution LCD screens working as a single screen - that allows for the display of water research data. Working in collaboration with Purdue's renowned Envision Center, and leveraging Purdue's high performance computing expertise, Civil Engineering faculty and student at Purdue are utilizing the room to visualize water projects. Importantly, the room is always open to the public, who can enter the room from above; the room can also be used as a command center for field projects, including deployments of the lab's autonomous underwater vehicle.
  • Student interaction space: An important element of our laboratory is fostering a strong student community, and the laboratory has some of the best student space in all of Purdue engineering. Housing nearly 16 graduate students, the graduate student space in the H2O lab allows for collaboration between students as well as the mentoring of undergraduate students by TA's.
  • Burke Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory: This laboratory is where Purdue Civil Engineers perform laboratory experiments for their first course in fluid mechanics (CE340/CE343). It includes water tables that can be configured for multiple experiments, instrumented pipe and pump networks, an air jet, a wind tunnel, a tabletop water visualization channel, and an open channel flume.
  • Research space: Described in detail here, the laboratory of course contains ample space for sponsored research, including a re-circulating open channel flume for sediment transport studies, a 10m long laser-based stratified flows facility, and a massive 150ft-long towing tank. More facilities are planned for the future.

Hydraulics Laboratory History

The Hydraulics Laboratory dates back to 1891. It was located in the old Heavilon Hall and included a Pelton wheel and a Leffel turbine. But it was in 1910 that Ralph L. Sackett built the long lasting hydraulics laboratory in the basement and mezzanine of the East wing of Heavilon Hall where the Herbert Brown laboratory of chemistry stands today. The lower level included a towing flume for current meter calibration and a weighting tank that served in the determination of weir and orifice discharge coefficients. The Hydraulics laboratory remained there until 1964 when the Hydromechanics Laboratory was developed with a grant of the National Science Foundation in the south wing of the then new Civil Engineering building. The laboratory included a recirculating water system with a constant head tank located on the fourth floor of the building and pumps in the sub-basement. The principal research facilities included two large flumes, a wind tunnel, an area for river models and a towing tank that was instrumented in 1983. The teaching laboratory was developed in 1966 with the help of a separate NSF grant and was originally located on the main floor of the building. It remained there until 1999 when it was moved to the lower level and was expanded to become the Burke Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory. In 2010 the Hydromechanics Laboratory was rebuilt and modernized to become the Christopher and Susan Burke Hydraulics and Hydrology Laboratory.