Sources: Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, Chicago; CP staff
Two University of Notre Dame student teams took first and second place in the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute 2020 Engineering Student Design Competition. Now in its 20th year and also known as Big Beam, the national competition educates college students in an applied learning environment—imparting structural engineering skills they can use throughout their careers in precast concrete production and practice.
Big Beam involves teams and faculty advisors designing, fabricating and testing a 22-ft. concrete beam, while local precast producers provide students ongoing mentorship. Project entries are judged on a) the beam’s performance in stress tests that simulate the types of real-life conditions structural building and infrastructure components must endure to ensure life safety; b) report and analysis quality; and, c) project overview videos (posted at Big Beam YouTube Channel).
In each of his roles as Big Beam student, teaching assistant and Notre Dame teams’ faculty advisor, Robert Divine has found the competition special because “It allows the students to put the lessons they learn in class to the test and see their design become a reality. We are also fortunate at Notre Dame to have excellent support from local contractors and material suppliers.”
PCI producer Strescore Inc. assisted Notre Dame Teams 2 and 1, which earned respective first and second place prizes of $2,000 and $1,750 in the competition, sponsored by the Institute’s Aspire magazine. With assistance from Northeast Prestressed Products and faculty advisor Clay Naito, PhD, Lehigh University Team 2 took third place, good for $1,500. The producer and advisor also assisted Lehigh Team 1, which finished along with other teams and $1,000-$1,250 prize recipients from Colorado State University, assisted by producer EnCon Design and advisor Rebecca Atadero; and, Northern Arizona University, TPac/EnCon Co. and Robin Tuchscherer, PhD. Lehigh Teams 2 and 1 earned an additional $500 each for leading the Best Report and Best Video categories.
“The hands-on nature of the Big Beam competition and familiarity with prestressed concrete will be invaluable to the participants as they proceed through their careers,” notes PCI President Bob Risser. “I especially congratulate the winners and all the participants for being able to submit entries through the many challenges presented by Covid-19 this year.”