When civil engineering graduate students Matthew Bandelt, Adam Beckman, Brian Czenszak, and Shane Moran began their senior capstone in spring 2010, they never expected that their work to design a bridge for a major New Jersey roadway would take them to Las Vegas to present their project at a national engineering conference. The team will be recognized at the 2011 Structures Congress in April for winning first place in the 2010 Student Structural Design Competition, sponsored nationally by the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“We are thrilled to receive the award. Students from Villanova have now won the competition for the past two years,” says team leader Bandelt. Last year, civil engineering graduate students took first place for their design of a girls’ dormitory for Amigos de Jesus children’s home in Poses Verdes, Honduras.
This year’s winning team designed a prototype bridge for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority as a part of the state’s widening project to end chronic congestion along the roadway. They were given plans that mirror deliverables from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s actual project RFP to create a 150-foot simple span bridge with welded plate girders made composite with a cast-in-place reinforced concrete deck. The bridge was designed to extend the dual-dual configuration from interchanges six to nine on the New Jersey Turnpike.
“We feel that our success with this project can be attributed to a balance of technical excellence, quality presentation, and an understanding of engineering economics,” says Bandelt.
The team’s faculty advisors, Dr. Joseph Yost, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory, and doctoral student Zeyn Uzman, helped the team bridge their classroom learning experience with a real-world application. For example, although the team had never been exposed to the bridge design process, Dr. Yost and Uzman taught them how to utilize the appropriate bridge design codes in conjunction with engineering design fundamentals. They also helped the team with presentation and professional writing skills.
“What we do differently at Villanova is emphasize engineering and communication as partners working together. We are unique for teaching deliverable skills and stressing theory, along with an articulate presentation. This is what made our group’s project a strong submission and helped Villanova shine in the competition,” says Dr. Yost.
Although the plans for the actual project currently under construction along the New Jersey Turnpike were created by professionals at Dewberry®, the student’s design proposal was nearly identical to the winning RFP submission.