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Civil Engineering Students Show off Pro-Level Design Skills

Recent WVU Tech graduates Rami Shamout, Megan Chestnut, Raul Martin Valencia and Rachel Facemire got a chance to showcase their civil engineering knowledge on Friday, May 2 as they presented their final project for the Integrated Civil Engineering Design course.

The group focused on the “rebuild” in WVU Tech’s mission to recruit, retain and rebuild. To accommodate an increase in freshman students – Fall 2013 saw the biggest freshman enrollment increase at WVU Tech in a decade – they designed a new residence hall for their senior project. They named the building in their project Keely Hall, after Montgomery Preparatory School’s first principal, Josiah Keely.

“We’re proud to be golden bears,” said Martin Valencia. “We had a lot of options for projects, but we wanted to work on something that would benefit WVU Tech, something we could give back in return for what WVU Tech has given to us.”

Greg Bailey, the course’s instructor and acting State Highway Engineer at the West Virginia Division of Highways, said the class is an opportunity for students to build a project from the ground up. Students work as a team and every course assignment and technical paper is a part of the overall design project.

“The course challenges students to see a conceptual design project through from start to finish,” he said. “It provides practical experience and allows them to interact with actual clients and professionals in the industry.”

In order to create a comprehensive plan for Keely Hall, the group had to consider factors such as site placement, slope integrity, water runoff and even how the proposed construction would impact soil pressure. Group members tackled these issues individually, conducting land surveys, measuring soil distribution curves and seepage factors, designing a low-impact foundation for the building and mapping the flow of water to and from the site.

The data was earned in long hours and muddy boots.

“We learned that the idea that engineers just sit in an office crunching numbers all day is a myth,” said Facemire.

The group worked closely with WVU Tech facilities to go over blueprints and schematics of current infrastructure in the area. To find out which amenities students would prefer in a new residence hall, they conducted a student survey.

Using their hard-won research and feedback from students, the group created a 3D model and blueprints of the proposed facility. The 261-foot long, 69-foot wide building would house 188 students and include a fitness area, resident director’s apartment, study and conference rooms, student storage and activity rooms where students could play games and hang out.

The group is hopeful that their project is a good starting point as WVU Tech expands.

“These students have put together something they can use as they go out into the workforce,” said Bailey. “It’s really impressive work, something on par with what you would expect to see from a team of professional engineers.”