The highlight of spending a semester designing and building your final project is watching it crumble, says a civil engineering student.
Junaid Khan was one of five University of Windsor engineering students tasked with building and predicting the strength of a bridge beam for the American Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big Beam competition.
Khan said the pinnacle of the project was when the team tested the strength of the 17-foot-long beam with a hydraulic actuator in the university’s structural lab.
“This project prepares you for the real world and what you can expect when you encounter a problem,” Khan said. “As soon as the beam failed, we knew how accurate our design was and what we could do to fix it.”
The team of fourth-year students: Alaeldeen Abdelmoneim, Omar Albarazi, Majid Elkhereiji, Sofia Tahat and Khan, finished in 16th place among 30 international teams and third among Canadian universities, snagging a $250 US cash prize. The students were judged on a number of factors, including design accuracy, cost, weight and most accurate prediction.
The students meticulously planned everything from the structural design of the beam, to the concrete mix before turning to Prestressed Systems Inc., a Windsor manufacturer, to assist with the construction. The team used prestressed concrete, which is compressed with highly-stressed steel strand for added strength. However, a design flaw in the thickness of the flanges—the top and bottom caps of the beam—resulted in the beam’s failure.
“This is why I like civil engineering,” Khan said. “You instantly see the results of your work and if it makes sense.”
The team worked under the supervision of civil engineering assistant professor Amr El Ragaby and associate Shaohong Cheng, and was required to submit project results and a video outlining the construction process by June 2016. The results were announced in August.
Watch the team’s video: