CE Capstone Class Wins NCEES Grand Prize

June 13, 2011

UNM’s Department of Civil Engineering was recently named grand prize winner of the 2011 NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education.

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) extends this prestigious engineering award to departments or colleges that promote collaboration between the engineering profession and education.

The Civil Engineering Department Capstone Design Course (CE 497/499), taught by Dr. Andrew Schuler, received the 2011 NCEES Award because of its project, Integrated Infrastructure Improvements for a Youth Scout Ranch. The project was applauded by the NCEES jury because it incorporated a variety of civil engineering (CE) and construction management (CM) sub-disciplines and also encouraged inter-group coordination. The jury was impressed by students’ “practical understanding of the routine work environment of practicing professional engineers.”

As part of the project, CE and CM students were organized into teams that worked closely with professional engineer mentors to design infrastructure improvements for a youth scouting ranch located in the Southwest region of the United States. The project teams highlighted and addressed four key areas to ensure the camp’s future growth and improved safety: drinking water and fire protection; drainage, erosion control, and emergency road access; wastewater collection and secondary treatment; and structural improvements, including a new pedestrian bridge. The project mentors were Allen Bolinger, Allena Muskett, and Pat Conley of Smith Engineering, and Ryan Page of HDR, Inc.

Project teams carried out tasks that included site assessment, engineering modeling and calculations, alternative comparison, decision analysis, cost estimation, scheduling, preparation of drawings and specifications, and construction phasing. Additionally, students augmented their skills in such areas as writing, presenting, applying modeling to real-world problems, communicating with clients and government officials, and obtaining permitting applications.

The NCEES Award includes a $25,000 cash prize for the department. Additionally, as grand prize winner, the CE Department will be recognized at the NCEES annual meeting and the project submission will be exhibited at the event, featured on the NCEES web site, and promoted in numerous NCEES publications and other related professional publications.

This is not the first time that UNM’s Civil Engineering Department has been recognized by NCEES. In 2010, the department was the recipient of one of NCEES’s five $7,500 cash prizes, again for the NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education. The 2010 award recognized the CE 497/499 Capstone project, Wastewater Pond for a Rural Community.

The CE Department has a long-standing history of success with its Capstone Design Course. The continued recognition of students’ achievements by organizations like NCEES is further testament to the hard work, dedication, and creativity of UNM’s students and faculty. Congratulations to our winners!

Click here to read more about the award.