Eight local high school students took on the roles of civil engineers and architects for the last quarter of the school year, and on Wednesday after school they presented their work to local professionals in those fields.
As part of the new Civil Engineering and Architecture course, the students, from West Burlington High School and Burlington High School, imagined they owned the empty 15-acre lot in West Burlington by Deery Brothers and created plans for hypothetical businesses at the location. Using both hand drawings and AutoDesk software used by the commercial construction design industry, the high-schoolers dove into the nitty gritty details of what it really takes for a building to become a reality.
Under the supervision on West Burlington teacher Taylor Fountain, the students calculated water runoff, water pressure, heat loss, beam/grinder/column loads, footing pressure/sizing, soil testing and soil bearing capacity.
Fountain said the class condenses a four-year civil engineering program into one course, covering a shallow portion of each topic. The introduction to civil engineering and architecture to young students serves and important purpose in Southeast Iowa, he said.
“With Burlington’s strength in the construction industry, I think this one fits very well,” said Fountain. “I think we need to take more advantage of our building sector, and that is a big reason why I wanted to teach this class.”
The students split up into pairs and worked in four project ideas— a pool hall and bowling alley, a Top Golf facility, a multi-sport complex and a Krispy Kreme donut store.
Ellen McCulley from Carl A. Nelson & Co., Travis Anderson from Brockway Co., Stephen Hartman from Klinger & Associates and Dan Culp from Carl A. Nelson & Co. assessed each student presentation on overall clarity and viability of the project, architectural design, civil engineering calculations and concepts, site analysis, use and layout, and ensuring the project follows ADA, fire and building codes.
Daniel Crooks, a student in the class who plans to major in civil engineering in college, said he took the class to prepare. Students like Crooks were able to take a national exam at the end of the course and earn college credit with a score of six out of nine or higher.
Presenting for local professionals offered the students constructive criticism.
“It’s cool that they are interested in coming over here to watch our presentations and listen to us,” said student Jonathan Mack. “It’s a little nerve-wracking too, because we are dealing with professionals.”
Hartman knew what he was getting into when he volunteered to help on the professional panel. His children had already taken the same classes during their time in school.
“I think its great experience for them because I’m sure they were challenged,” said Hartman. “And if they go on to a university to study engineering they are going to see even more challenges.”