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Civil engineering students do well in contest

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From left, Dr. Sriram Aaleti, Andrew Lansdell, Nathan Klenke and Vidya Sagar Ronanki.

A team of three graduate students from civil, construction and environmental engineering received special recognition for their work in a national level concrete beam design contest organized by Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. This is the first time, a team from UA competed in this contest.

The members of the UA team included Nathan Klenke, Andrew Lansdell and Vidya Sagar Ronanki, graduate students all majoring in structural engineering specialization. The students were advised by Dr. Sriram Aaleti, an assistant professor in the department and an active member in PCI.

Founded in 1954, PCI is the technical institute for the precast/prestressed concrete structures industry. PCI aims to cultivate a “Body of Knowledge” among industry professionals in order to create and maintain updated building codes, design guides, education and certification programs.

The judges in the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute 2015 Big Beam Contest honored the team with a Special Judges Award, citing a report and video the team members submitted with their project as being among of the best examples they had seen of the “spirit of the contest.” The team placed ninth overall and won a cash prize of $1,000 in addition to the cash prize of $500, which they received with their Special Judges Award.

For the contest, student teams were tasked with designing, fabricating and testing a precast, prestressed concrete beam with the help of a local precast concrete Producer Member. As part of the competition, the beams are tested to failure and winners were decided based on scores for design efficiency, load capacity and ductility, accuracy of predictions, innovativeness and other categories.

DSC_0350-1The concept of creating precast/prestressed concrete involves casting concrete around a series of steel tendons while they are under stress in order to create a beam that can sustain tension. UA students worked with GATE PRECAST, a PCI producer member in Monroeville, Alabama, to construct a precast/prestressed concrete beam that was 19 feet long and tested under two-point loading with 17-foot span.

According to Ronanki, this team was the first to test a concrete beam in the University’s new Large Scale Structures Lab. With the success this year, more students from the department are planning to participate in the 2016 competition.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.