Notre Dame engineering student team takes PCI 2015 Big Beam Contest

The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Student Education Committee recently judged the Sika Corp.-sponsored Engineering Student Design Competition, or Big Beam Contest, challenging college or university teams to fabricate and test a precast/prestressed concrete beam with the help of local PCI Producer members. Prizes based on efficient design, highest load capacity and other criteria are awarded to the top 20 entries, drawn from a North America-wide pool.


Beam proposals were ranked by total number of points earned. Topping the field was the team representing the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., with students Robert Devine, Michael Brandes, David Terry, Jessica Orlando, Nicholas Bette, Ted Williams, Craig Davila, Megan McKeon scoring 64.50 points and receiving a $2,000 award plus other prizes. Their entry was prepared under South Bend producer StresCore Inc. and Notre Dame’s Yahya Kurama, Ph.D., P.E., faculty advisor. Rounding out the top five Big Beam Contest challengers were student teams backed by PCI members and faculty advisors:

Second place. Oregon State University, Corvallis; 59.25 points, $1,750 award; Knife River Corp. Northwest, Harrisburg, Ore.; Keith Kaufmann, Ph.D., P.E.

Third place. University of Kansas (Orange Team), Lawrence; 53.75 points, $1,500 award; Coreslab Structures Inc., Kansas City; Robert Lyon, Ph.D., P.E.

Fourth place. University of Washington (Team 2), Seattle; 52.00 points, $1,250 award; Concrete Technology Corp., Tacoma; John Stanton, Ph.D.

Fifth place. University of Kansas (Blue Team), Lawrence; 51.25 points, $1,000 award; Coreslab Structures, Kansas City; Robert Lyon, Ph.D., P.E.

Also receiving $1,000 awards were student teams placing sixth through tenth, representing, respectively, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla, 50 points; University of Missouri, Kansas City, 48.50 points; Western University, London, Ont., 48.25 points; University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 47.25 points; and, tied with 46.00 points, Red River College, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.

“The designs were based on sound engineering judgment, but the real value is how students learn the importance of the designer-manufacturer relationship in making [beams] come to life,” says PCI Managing Director, Education, Alex Morales.

Others recognized in the 2015 Big Beam Competition, with $250-500 awards, were student teams from University of Washington [Team 1], Seattle; University of Kansas [Red Team], Lawrence; California State University, Sacramento; University of Windsor, Ontario; Norwich University, Northfield, Vt.; Fanshawe College, London, Ontario; Colorado State University, Fort Collins; Minnesota State University, Mankato; and, University of California, San Diego [Team 1].

The judging committee considered overall presentation for best report winner. In addition to verifying the report contains all the requested sections and required signatures, judges looked for clear presentation of data, professional look and formatting. This year, they gave the nod to teams representing University of Washington [Team 2] and Western University, London, Ontario. A Special Judges Award went to the University of Alabama team, a first time participant that finished ninth overall. Judges especially noted the “Lessons Learned” section of the team’s report and video.