Engineering students honoured for helping Walkerton camp mitigate riverbank erosion

A team of engineering students has designed a cost-effective and sustainable erosion control structure that will help protect a children’s camp based at the riverbank of the Saugeen River in Walkerton, Ontario. 

“The outer banks of river bends are often subjected to erosion due to the force of the flowing water, which sweep sediments downstream,” said Karla Gorospe, a civil engineering MASc candidate, who worked on the student capstone project. “To minimize the erosive effects of the flowing water at Camp Cherith, we designed a hybrid system that includes a series of rock structures called bendway weirs and woody plants. While the bendway weirs help in redirecting the flow away from the bank, the woody plants and tree cuttings stabilize the soils.”

Camp Cherith, a Christian camp for children and youth, approached the university in fall 2016 to seek help with its erosion problem, which has resulted in significant property loss and affected regular camp activities.

Gorospe and teammates Kwame Afrani, Anne Baker, Mike Kadhim, Rachel Muir, and Lauren Ramirez based their design on a set of weighted criteria, which included cost, maintenance, aesthetics, life expectancy, labour and adherence to governing acts and regulations.

“Working on this project was a learning experience that I will never forget,” said Ramirez, the capstone team leader. “This project enabled us to not only work on a fourth-year project, but a project that solved a real-life problem where we can make a change.”

The students presented their final design and recommendations at a Camp Cherith board meeting on Sept. 23, 2017. During the meeting, Camp Cherith board members awarded the team with certificates of appreciation. Paul Perry, a Camp Cherith board member, said they were “very excited about involving the University of Windsor in this investigation.”

“The students have given the Camp a comprehensive assessment of all possible options and this provides an excellent starting point for this important project,” he added.

Based on the students’ recommendations, Perry said the Camp Cherith board decided to approach the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority to obtain the necessary approvals to move the project forward to the next stage.

The students worked under the supervision of Dr. Tirupati Bolisetti, their faculty advisor, and Dan Krutsch of Landmark Engineers. Capstone projects challenge students to apply the formal knowledge they’ve gained over four years of study to solving real-world problems.

“The students worked hard in a team setting to overcome the obstacles and challenges that arise in real-world situations,” said Dr. Bolisetti. “At the same time, they were able to help a community organization.”