The University of Missouri-Rolla recently received notification from the Pre-cast/Pre-stressed Concrete Institute (PCI) that a team of four UMR graduate students has placed second nationally in the report category of the PCI Big Beam contest.
More than 50 university teams competed in the national competition. Each team designed a reinforced concrete beam according to contest specifications and then fabricated the beam with help from a pre-cast manufacturer.
After making design calculations that included predicted failure loads and deflections, the teams conducted load tests and recorded measurements. All of the information was reviewed by PCI judges.
“The students design and perform analysis of their beam up front,” says the UMR team’s advisor, Dr. John Myers, an associate professor of civil engineering. “This year, the results proved that our predictions were very accurate.”
Last spring, the UMR graduate students designed their beam on campus and then traveled to Coreslab Structures Inc., in Marshall, Mo., where they fabricated the finished product. The 16-foot beam was later tested back at UMR’s high-bay structural engineering laboratory.
“The students actually have to work directly with a pre-cast fabricator to produce the test beam, so they learn how pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete works,” says Myers. “All of the beams have to be constructed within certain boundary conditions, including length and cross-section size, for the competition.”
Basic concrete is a mixture of cement, water and aggregates. The trick is to utilize higher performing materials and additional chemical and mineral admixtures to produce a highly performing product, according to Myers. The UMR team added fly ash and silica fume, among other things, to enhance its mixture.
Pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete is used in the construction of structures like parking lots and stadiums.
The ideal beam for the competition is one with low weight, low cost and high strength. The beam should also be ductile enough to deform significantly prior to failure. Structural components need to have high ductility to withstand extreme events like earthquakes.
In addition to finishing second nationally in the report category of the PCI contest, the UMR team also finished third regionally in the testing category. The 2006 UMR Big Beam Team will receive at total of $1,000 and other prizes from PCI. A team from the University of Illinois finished first overall and won $2,000.
Specifications for next year’s PCI Big Beam contest will be released as early as this October. Members of this year’s UMR team include:
– Jared Brewe, a graduate student in civil engineering from Marthasville, Mo.
– Trevor Hrynyk, a graduate student in civil engineering from Waterloo, Quebec.
– Amol Sawant, a graduate student in civil engineering from Mumbai, India
– Mathew Tinsley, a graduate student in civil engineering from Jonesboro, Ark.