It was during a drafting course in high school when Villanova Engineering alumnus Andrew Blasetti ’04 COE, ’06 MS was creating blueprints for complex mechanical assemblies that he became passionate about engineering. He enjoyed seeing how parts—such as mechanical gears and bolted connections—came together to serve a purpose.
Blasetti is now a vice president at the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti in Philadelphia and was the lead structural engineer on the construction of the 60-story Comcast Technology Center that opened in 2018 in Philadelphia. At Villanova, he teaches a graduate Engineering elective course in structural engineering called Tall Building Design.
Blasetti wants to prepare Villanova students for what’s ahead of them in an industry that’s constantly changing. “I want to prepare them for the challenges they'll face early in their careers and to instill in them the confidence and motivation needed to design structures one hundred times taller than themselves,” he says.
With advances in modern technologies, Blasetti notes it’s an exciting time to be an engineer in this industry. For Blasetti's team of structural engineers, many of whom are also Villanova Engineering alumni, he says, “It was very rewarding to be trusted with the Comcast project and figuring out how to make a billion-dollar skyscraper stand up.”
Designing and constructing the Comcast Technology Center didn’t happen overnight—it took years. “You need a team that’s in it for the long haul and willing to face challenge after challenge to see the project come to fruition,” Blasetti says. “My team and I worked on the design of the tower in complete secrecy for nearly a year before the project was announced to the public.”
Did You Know?
Wind presents quite a challenge for tall buildings. Its powerful pushing and pulling causes them to sway back and forth. Advances in modern technology have been a game changer.
Computational fluid dynamics, for example, simulates the interaction between fluids (e.g., air) and solids (e.g., buildings) as the fluid is set into motion. This simulation allows engineers to see how wind travels around a building and where it exerts the greatest pressure, which enables them to reshape buildings to be more aerodynamic and less costly.