International Project Wins Indiana ASCE Design Contest; Other Civil Engineering Capstone Projects Completed for Clients

Friday, May 17, 2013
Three individuals stand in front of staircase dressed in business attire
Indiana ASCE Design Winners: The team of (from left) Chaela Jean, Justin Kerns, and Priscilla Magee earned first-place honored in the Indiana ASCE design competition for a project that designed elements of a new inland port in Ghana. (Photo by Dal

Three Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology senior civil engineering students earned first-place honors in this year's Indiana American Society of Civil Engineers' design competition for a project that could assist in the improvement of Ghana's international trade and transportation system.

Two international-related projects were among 10 completed this year as seniors put into practice their design and problem-solving skills for real-world clients.

Chaela Jean, Justin Kerns, and Priscilla Magee collaborated with students at Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to design the construction of buildings and supporting infrastructural facilities for a new inland port at Boankra, near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The port has been commissioned by the Ministry of Transport to transform Ghana into a major manufacturing, processing, and multi-modal transportation hub.

"This was a very challenging project since we never visited the country or saw the inland port site first hand. We were dependent on site drawings and conversations with people thousands of miles away," stated Jean, who supervised the project's structural and geotechnical features.

Team members had weekly meeting, through Skype, with KNUST students and faculty members. Rose-Hulman Professor John Aidoo, PhD, a Ghana native, was the team's faculty project mentor.

"The project was a true test of intercultural communications," cited Kerns, who designed the project's warehouse and drainage features. "We learned how to ask the right questions to get the precise information we needed during our weekly meetings."

Magee concentrated on aspects of the project pertaining to wastewater and solid waste removal from the port site.

Four men hold up structure in front of train at Deming Park
Enhancing City Park: Seniors (from left) Greg Piekos, Austin Weatherford, Kyle Kovach, and Nate Wallen designed a new and longer train route for the Spirit of Terre Haute model train at the City of Terre Haute's Deming Park. Here, the senior design team holds a model of the train's new station. (Photo courtesy of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star)

The team defended its project design plans via videoconferencing before a panel of KNUST civil engineering faculty and some prominent practicing engineers. Then, the students made a presentation before a panel of professional engineers at the American Society of Civil Engineers' Indiana Section meeting in Indianapolis. The project earned top marks over teams from Purdue University, University of Notre Dame, University of Evansville, Valparaiso University, Trine University, and Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.

Another international-related project this year had four students developing a design manual suitable for the Bridging the Gap organization in Kenya. The group is dedicated to improving the quality of life for marginalized communities across sub-Saharan Africa by constructing pedestrian footbridges to overcome the dangers posed by impassable rivers and ravines that threaten their safety, limit access to education and health care, and restrict economic opportunity. The team adapted its manual for conditions throughout Kenya and offered two bridge designs to meet different needs. Team members were Bradley Bork, Jessica Lundin, Donald Michael, and Craig Schlachter, with Matt Lovell, PhD, as faculty advisor.

Other capstone projects completed by civil engineering students this year included:

"Spirit of Terre Haute" Railroad Sustainability: The Indiana Rail Road Company and City of Terre Haute's Parks Department sought improvements to a 24-passenger miniature railroad train that operates on a 2,500-foot-long double loop track in the community's Deming Park. The project included adding track features, a railroad station, and maintenance facility. The project was completed by Kyle Kovach, Greg Piekos, Nate Wallen, and Austin Weatherford. The advisor was Professor Kyle Kershaw, PhD.

MedTech Parkway for Town of Fishers, Indiana: This project gave students a firsthand glimpse at how municipal leaders plan for the future health and success of a community. The team worked on an overall storm water solution for the community, provided designs for two busy roadway intersections, and developed context-sensitive solutions for future construction. Members of the team were Nick Addante, Tony Brklach, Robert Gilbert, and Blake Knotts, with advisor being Visiting Professor David Devine.

Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin, Indiana: The team designed property improvements to meet the church's long-range building expansion plan. The project addressed surface drainage design and utility adjustments, and geotechnical and building reviews and redesigns. Coming up with solutions were Colton Gibson, David Oros, Cameron Tousi, and Russell Webster. The faculty advisor was James Hanson, PhD.

Terre Haute Parks Operations Center: Four students designed a new sustainable building being proposed to consolidate all city parks department administrative and maintenance operations. The project featured access roads, structures, geotechnical issues, and storm water management. Members of the team were Brenton Balsbaugh, James Epperson, Ryan Gallagher, and Matthew J. Ross, with Professor Michael Robinson, PhD, serving as project mentor.

Westerville Leg of Ohio-to-Erie Trail: The Westerville (Ohio) Parks and Recreation Department was provided an alternative alignment to the existing trail leg that bypasses an existing share-the-road bicycle lane, which poses a safety concern. The students' plan features intersection and culvert crossings, short bridges, retaining walls, and site restoration. Team members were Max Foltz, Jon Gerken, Ross Meininger, and Pietro Nichelatti Nicolodi. Hanson was the project mentor.

Large group of individuals sit around rectangular table
Discussing Ideas: Senior civil engineering students exchange ideas on their projects with Professor Kevin Sutterer, department head and coordinator of the capstone design course throughout the academic year. (Photo by Chris Minnick)

Banks of the Wabash Trail: Students designed a new bicycle-pedestrian trail along the east bank of the Wabash River, in Terre Haute, to meet aesthetic and functional specifications in Indiana State University's campus plan, RiverSCAPE master plan, and City of Terre Haute's National Road Heritage Trail Greenway System. Members of the team were Adam Carlson, Zackary Howe, Evan Land, Caleb Nickels, and Brian Weiner. The faculty advisor was Professor Jeremy Chapman, PhD.

De-Urbanization of Greene County, Missouri Campus: Students developed a plan to improve storm water management, transportation, and a green roof for the Greene County campus in the community of Springfield, Missouri. Team members were Clay Condol, Haaken Hagen-Atwell, Kirk Hubbard, and Brett McKinney, with Robinson serving as faculty mentor.

Lost Creek Pedestrian Bridge: Students designed a new pedestrian bridge on the Rose-Hulman campus. The bridge was designed to be a full-scale teaching tool and landmark campus structure. Members were Shannon Cunnien, Shifan Geng, Mitch Snyder, and Austin Tracey. Aidoo was the faculty advisor.

Department of Civil Engineering head Kevin Sutterer, PhD, coordinated the senior design project course this year.