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 The recently graduated team of (from left to right) Rama Nabhan; Mohnad Nabhan; Firas Abdelkhaleq; and Jihad Zaher, project achieved 15th place internationally, and third place locally, in the American Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute annual intern The recently graduated team of (from left to right) Rama Nabhan; Mohnad Nabhan; Firas Abdelkhaleq; and Jihad Zaher, project achieved 15th place internationally, and third place locally, in the American Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute annual international competition.

Civil engineering capstone project earns top marks at international contest

A team of civil engineering students’ graduation project on beam design ranked them among the top entrants at an international design competition August 7.

The recently graduated team of Rama Nabhan; Mohnad Nabhan; Firas Abdelkhaleq; and Jihad Zaher, whose project achieved 15th place internationally, and third place locally, was in competition with 29 other teams in the American Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big-Beam annual international competition.  

According to Nabhan, the contest was to design, construct, analyze and test a beam using pre-stressed concrete - a construction product produced by pre-casting concrete with pre-tensioned reinforcing strands in a reusable mold.

The winners say the project was a practical learning experience, as they had to start by researching the concept and physically visit the construction sites where they were able to watch the full process of beam construction.

“We started by studying pre-stressed concrete, as it’s a new topic to us,” says Nabhan. “After we prepared the initial design we did several tests and altered the design accordingly. I think we ran over 30 quality checks.”

Under the supervision of civil engineering assistant professor Amr El Ragaby, associate Shaohong Cheng, and with the support of the local Windsor Company, Prestressed Systems Inc., the team designed their project to minimize cost, achieve design accuracy, and other specific contest criteria.

“As faculty advisors, we really feel proud of what the team has achieved,” says Dr. Cheng.

She says that although the students were challenged by various constraints during their design, she was glad to see how they actively found ways to resolve them: “…An essential skill required in the real engineering world.”

The team will receive a $500 US cash prize.