County Materials Partners with Engineering Students for Bridge Beam Design Competition
July 8, 2019

Categories | Community & Education, Prestress Bridge Girders

County Materials Partners with Engineering Students for Bridge Beam Design Competition

Every year the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) invites students from across the country to participate in the Engineering Student Design (Big Beam) Competition, where student teams must work with a PCI Producer Member to build and test a prestressed concrete beam. County Materials’ Salem, IL manufacturing facility participated in this year’s event with a team of students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). 

This year’s event involved designing, building and testing a 20 ft long prestressed concrete beam to meet design criteria defined by PCI’s competition. County Materials aided the team in the design, form and rebar fabrication, casting and testing of a beam. Students sought advice on the structural design and concrete mixture proportions and worked with County Materials to build the beam. In addition, County Materials transported the beam to a testing facility on the UIUC campus. 

The UIUC engineering team received fourth place honors for their participation. Learn more about the competition here:

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“County Materials played a huge role in ensuring our successful participation,” said Pratik Deogekar, one of the UIUC engineering students. “County Materials was involved with this project from the conception stage to the final testing stage, were always prompt in answering our team’s questions, and also gave us a full tour of their production facility.”

The students worked with production advisors from County Materials including Rich Cooper, Project Manager, and Nathan Rudolphi, Quality Control Supervisor, to build a Bulb T-section beam constructed with three 0.5” diameter prestressing strands and four #3 bars for compressive reinforcement.  The competition rules required the students to report on the concrete mixture used including proportions, measured unit weight, slump, air content, and 28-day compressive and tensile strengths. They explained how the mix performed according to the team’s design requirements and submitted predictions and test results on the beam’s overall structural design, including design calculations, peak and cracking loads, maximum applied load, and the midspan deflection at maximum load. 

The beam constructed by County Materials and the UIUC students outperformed the load test and the team’s predictions, and successfully achieved the design criteria. According to the competition rules, teams may earn points for the most accurate team prediction compared to actual test results.Additionally, teams can earn extra points for reduced costs and weight, and the largest measured mid-span deflectionof the beam.

“These students are the future of the industry,” said Rich Cooper, Project Manager at County Materials’ Salem, IL location. “Working with engineering students creates a positive relationship between County Materials and the future decision makers in the industry. This was a great opportunity for the company to support industry education and to make lasting impacts on students.”

County Materials’ participation in the Big Beam Competition and contribution to UIUC students demonstrates the company’s commitment to industry education and is an example of how County Materials fulfills its Vision of Success, Stability and Support.

(Picture above from left to right: Minsoo Sung, Melvin Cook, Pratik Deogekar, Nathan Rudolphi, Mark Tew, Zige Zhang, Yen-Feng Chen).