Many engineering and architectural students learn nothing about the use of precast/prestressed concrete bridge design in their undergraduate studies. The University of Nebraska's Maher Tadros, a member of Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI)'s Student Education Committee, is trying to change that. Tadros notes that students who graduate without any knowledge about precast/prestressed concrete are likely to ignore it in their future work.
Many professors say they can't squeeze a study of precast concrete into their courses. To that end, Dr. Fattah Shaikh, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, is developing teaching modules on design of prestressed members.
The chairman of PCI's Student Education Committee, Charles E. "Budd" Hilgeman, says 69 of about 200 U. S. schools of civil engineering include precast/prestressed studies in their undergraduate curricula. "We are a long way from reaching our goal, which is making sure all civil engineering students know about precast/prestressed concrete before they graduate," says Hilgeman, president of Concrete Technology Inc., Springboro, Ohio.
The committee operates with an annual budget covering the cost of handbooks for 2,000 engineering students and 1,000 architectural students, student design awards and distinguished educator awards, among other things. PCI also provides three $10,000 Daniel P. Jenny Fellowships. Jenny, now retired, was PCI's technical director for many years.
Lynn Geren, a recipient of a $10,000 PCI research fellowship, used the funds and Tadros' guidance for a research project for her master's thesis at the University of Nebraska and designed the standard in continuous-span bridge girders.
When Geren started her work, precast/prestressed members for interstate bridge overpasses typically spanned 60 to 80 feet and required three supporting piers to cross the divided highway. The Federal Highway Administration "wanted to eliminate the shoulder piers because vehicles were running into them," says Geren. "Longer girders, 120 to 160 feet long, would reduce the number of spans from four to two and the piers from three to just one in the center."
Geren's new girder can span much farther than previous precast girders.
KEYWORDS: education, PCI