Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
CMET 228
Course Title:
Construction Materials
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers production, processing, and testing of aggregate, asphalt, concrete, soil and other materials in highway and commercial/industrial building projects. Includes quality assurance concepts, measurements and calculations, terminology and random sampling. Focuses on testing procedures common to construction in the northwest. Prerequisites: CMET 121, 122, 123. Prerequisites/concurrent: WR 121. Recommended: CMET 131. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

The student will be able to:

  1. Describe the physical characteristics of soil constituents, nature of soil deposits, engineering properties of soils, and soil classification systems.
  2. Describe field techniques for engineering soil investigations.
  3. Describe the physical characteristics of aggregates, sources and manufacturing processes for gravels, engineering properties of aggregates, and how aggregates are classified.
  4. Name the constituents of Portland cement concrete and proportion concrete mix designs.
  5. Describe the fieldwork and inspections necessary for successful results in concrete construction.
  6. Describe the cross section of a typical roadway construction.
  7. Conduct and document laboratory investigations.
  8. Work in small teams with individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  1. Individual, small group, and full class discussions, homework problems, laboratory proficiency, and exams may be used to assess outcomes.
  2. Lecture, homework, and laboratory will be coordinated. Indoor and outdoor laboratory work will be conducted in teams of 2 to 4 persons.
  3. Specific evaluation procedures will be defined during the first week of class. In general, grading will depend on class participation, homework, laboratory participation and proficiency, laboratory team reports, and written examinations.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  1. Soil is a complicated construction material with complex engineering properties.
  2. Successful civil engineering projects involving soils, aggregates, and concrete require a team approach of individuals working in the field, lab, and office.
  3. Obtaining meaningful results in the laboratory requires standardization of procedure and constant care and diligence.
  4. Professionalism, including ethical conduct, is key to a successful engineering career.


  1. Soil types
  2. Engineering properties of soils:
    1. Soil as a three-phase material
    2. Mass-volume relationships and calculations
    3. Soil classification
    4. Water in soil
    5. Soil strength
  3. Soil deposits, investigations, reports
  4. Soil compaction
    1. Maximum dry density
    2. Optimum water content
    3. Compaction techniques
  5. Aggregates
    1. Sources
    2. Properties
    3. Specifying
    4. Test procedures
  6. Portland cement concrete
    1. Portland cement types
    2. Supplementary cementing materials
    3. Aggregates
    4. Admixtures
    5. Mix proportioning
    6. Mixing, placing, and curing
    7. Inspections and quality control
  7. Pavement structure and base
    1. Pavement types
    2. Subbase
    3. Subgrade
    4. Geosynthetics

The student will be able to:

  1. Describe and determine (through calculation or appropriate lab work) the engineering properties of a soil in detail:
    1. Density - wet and dry
    2. Water content
    3. Void ratio
    4. Porosity
    5. Specific gravity
    6. Grain size distribution
    7. Classification by USCS or AASHTO
    8. Shear strength
  2. Describe basic soil investigative techniques and equipment employed
  3. Interpret information in a typical soil investigation report
  4. Explain soil compaction principles:
    1. Techniques and quality control
    2. Field density
    3. Test procedures
    4. Dry density
    5. Optimum water content and its effect on the compaction process
  5. Describe aggregate
    1. Sources
    2. Types, using proper terminology
    3. Properties
    4. Testing procedures and test names
    5. Specifying
  6. Describe Portland cement concrete constituents:
    1. Portland cement
    2. Supplementary cementing materials
    3. Aggregates
    4. Admixtures
    5. Water
  7. Proportion Portland cement concrete mix designs
  8. Describe and recognize importance of proper field work in the mixing, placing, and curing of Portland cement concrete
  9. Describe field and laboratory tests used for quality assurance for Portland cement concrete.
  10. Describe a typical roadway cross section and its parts:
    1. Subbase
    2. Subgrade
    3. Pavement and pavement types
  11. In the laboratory:
    1. Conduct a particle size analysis of soil and prepare a grain size distribution curve.
    2. Determine the amount of material in a soil mass finer than the No. 200 sieve.
    3. Determine the Atterberg limits for a soil:
      1. Liquid Limit
      2. Plastic Limit
    4. Conduct moisture-density relation tests and determine optimum moisture content:
      1. Standard Proctor Test
      2. Modified Proctor Test
    5. Determine the shear strength of a cohesionless soil using the direct shear test.
    6. Create complete, professional lab reports detailing results obtained.