Jake Johnston, who will graduate with a degree in civil engineering, is primarily interested in transportation surveying, so he was excited about the opportunity to take part in the Student Steel Bridge competition for a second year. Sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Society of Civil Engineers, the national competition requires a team of juniors and seniors to design a steel bridge after receiving rules for the contest. Team members designed the project during fall term and built the model during winter term.
The competition emphasizes innovation in steel design, with a focus on strength, resiliency, performance under difficult conditions, and aesthetics. This year’s regional competition was held at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Points were awarded for economy, efficiency, weight, construction speed, and deflection. Oregon State’s model was the lightest bridge in this year’s competition. The team earned second place for deflection and sixth place overall.
“It’s a great opportunity to get physical practice in designing and seeing the work realized,” said Johnston, who transferred to Oregon State from Linn-Benton Community College and particularly enjoyed an internship at the City of Portland during his time at Oregon State.
Dominic Eason will receive an undergraduate degree in civil and construction engineering this year. He served as project manager for his senior project, which explored possible routes to fiscal and environmental sustainability for the Willamette Falls Locks on the Willamette River at Oregon City, Ore.
Eason said that the locks, which are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are dilapidated and in need of funding since they no longer receive federal dollars. “Without the locks, which allow boats traveling up and downstream to pass the falls, water crafts would have to portage out and around with trucks,” Eason explained.
“Our task was to generate an innovative system and revenue plan that would reduce the monetary footprint to zero for the U.S. Army Corps,” he said. Eason and his team will present their proposal to the corps alongside other college teams that have created proposals. “It is not so much an expectation that a specific project will be implemented, but the ideas will be pooled and considered for viability.”
Eason’s team proposed building a 20,000-square-foot facility that includes a visitor’s center, museum, market, and available-to-lease office space in addition to a fish hatchery that will involve the community in educational opportunities. In addition to the locks themselves, Oregon City Bridge is among historical landmarks visible from the site. “We want to preserve the historic nature of the Willamette Falls Locks and also to bring people in,” said Eason, “Our plan is estimated to generate $300,000 per year.”
Eason praised Oregon State’s engineering faculty. “They are genuinely concerned about getting you to the next level,” said Eason. Among the reasons Eason was drawn to Oregon State after completing the core of his bachelor’s degree elsewhere, was that while speaking with professionals and contractors, he had “an overwhelming feeling that students who come out of OSU are well prepared.”