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Employee Spotlight: What do Materials Testers do in Emporia?

Materials testing involves measuring and inspecting construction materials for optimal consistency. Inspectors must be accurate and precise in their measurements to ensure that the materials used are suitable and sustainable for a construction project.

Ed Mueller, Lab Services Supervisor in our Emporia office, has been conducting materials tests for 14 years at Kaw Valley Engineering, and has experience on hundreds of testing projects. He tests materials like concrete, soil and asphalt for construction projects.

One of Ed’s favorite parts of his job is seeing the transformation of a project from beginning to end. In 2009, he worked on the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park in Salina, Kansas. Contractors started out with an empty field and completed an aquatic park with swimming pools, recreational buildings, a lazy river and more. During this project, Ed not only tested the concrete and soils used for construction, but also helped the surveying team conduct surveys and stake for construction.

Along with testing for building projects, Ed works on road reconstruction. His first project with the Kansas Department of Transportation was in McPherson, a town in central Kansas. He provided materials testing for the repaving of highway 56, which runs through the center of the town.

Ed said there were long days of testing concrete and making minor adjustments in McPherson. Materials engineers are required to test the concrete throughout the project to make sure the concrete pouring is consistent from the beginning to the end of the project.

“Consistency really is the key,” Ed said.

Ed, a self-described workaholic, is currently working on an asphalt project in Blue Rapids, Kansas until October. As a materials inspector, he said it is common to work on projects far from home.

“Traveling is something you have to be okay with,” he said.

The Emporia office will soon start testing and inspection for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City, Kansas. This will be Ed’s first historical building project. The project includes renovating a historical building at the preserve and will require materials testing and inspections for the structural changes.

Although on-site interactions have been altered due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ed still enjoys communicating with clients to provide testing and inspections for construction projects.

“It’s a job I can take pride in knowing I can make my own decisions, doing what is best for the company,” Ed said.

Materials testing is an essential part of any construction project. We are proud to have a talented inspector like Ed Mueller on our Emporia team.