College of Engineering -- University of Wisconsin-Madison
CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
o research and design their real-world final project, the 29 students in Associate Professor Awad Hanna's fall-semester senior design course might not have used any textbooks. Then again, they might have used all of them.
The capstone course (
Last fall, four student teams were project designers for multiuse recreation bridges in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, an 8,569-acre natural recreation area bisected by the Kickapoo River in southwestern Wisconsin. Considering the reserve's limited budget, the students conducted site surveys; investigated necessary permits; developed conceptual and actual designs; conducted a value-engineering study that examined cost, aesthetics, environmental impact and maintenance; and completed a detailed final cost estimate and construction schedule.
And by late-summer 2000, students may see the results of their design. Through grant money from the U.S. Forest Service and the state of Wisconsin, the reserve hopes to build less-costly modified versions of all four student-designed bridges, says Marcy West, the reserve's director.
Student design team member Bob Endres (left) says that although it was difficult to integrate all his civil engineering skills into this project, the course was beneficial.
"It culminated years of education with a real-world project that has the potential to be constructed in the future," he says. "It wasn't a problem out of a text; rather, it was a real-life thing that we could actually go out and visit... and be involved in from the ground up. The course was truly a capstone experience."
Pretreating and preventing tiny H20 pathogens
There's more to water than meets the eye, and Assistant Professor Gregory Harrington is researching ways to remove several microorganisms that may exist in drinking water. Although for years scientists have been treating more widely known pathogens such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, only recently have they been able to detect many smaller illness-causing waterborne pathogens. Unchecked, the newly identified types might be health hazards--especially since some are so tiny they could pass through standard water-treatment technologies.
Harrington's team is studying Crypto and several pathogens ranging from two to 100 times smaller than Crypto. The State Laboratory of Hygiene collects them and Harrington uses them to mix ultraconcentrated batches of pathogen-tainted water, then treats the water with chemicals to discover effective methods for removing the microorganisms.
His team already has learned that two of the microorganisms are easier to remove than Crypto, while one is more difficult. Eventually the results will be used to improve water-treatment methods not only in the United States, but in countries around the world. And while our nation's water-treatment standards already are good, Harrington says prevention is a prudent policy. "We could look at thousands of water samples before finding anything to worry about," he says. "But the consequences of failing to remove pathogens can be very large. We want to ensure there is minimal risk of public exposure."
Funds drive new transportation center
A five-year $4.45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, coupled with matching contributions from Wisconsin and Midwest state departments of transportation and funding from industry, recently paved the way for a new transportation research center that will help direct transportation priorities for six Midwestern states.
The Midwest Regional University Transportation Center, one of 10 regional centers run by the U.S. Department of Transportation, will bring together not only 12 UW faculty and more than 30 graduate students, but also experts from institutions throughout the Midwest. Their combined research efforts will help build a smarter, more integrated strategy for future transportation needs, says Professor Jeffrey Russell, the project's coordinator. "We plan to bring a consortium of people together, with different experience, to holistically look at how we spend transportation dollars," he says. The research agenda will include policy and technical research and will examine ways to improve highway maintenance, create alternative transportation modes and measure transportation-systems performance.
Faculty from the Departments of Economics and Urban and Regional Development, and the School of Business also will participate, and the Department of Engineering Professional Development will coordinate education to the departments of transportation and the private sector.
Copyright © 1999 University System Board of Regents