SU students win prizes for engineering real-world solutions

July 16, 2013

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Two teams of Seattle University engineering students have won $7,500 prizes in the 2013 National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Engineering Awards for Connecting Professional Practice and Education, the City of Seattle announced in a July 9 news release.

This is the third year in a row that Seattle University students mentored by City Light employees have won such awards.

"I continue to be impressed by the quality of the students' work," City Light Capital Projects Supervisor Wanda Schulze said. "They take the design to a stage where our engineers can take it out to bid and get it built. It energizes our engineers to have a chance to mentor these students and teach them the real-world end of engineering."

The first team of students--Collin Cabatbat, Rachel Dang, Cole Franklin and Daniel Richings--developed two designs for a permanent crossing at Babcock Creek near Newhalem and Seattle City Light's Skagit Hydroelectric Project.

The creek crossing sits on a road to an important communications tower that must be kept clear year round. The creek is prone to washouts and a temporary bridge is currently in place. City Light is sharing these designs with the National Park Service as part of the decision-making process for building a permanent crossing in 2014 or 2015.

A second team--Aimee Corn, T.J. Lynam, Maureen O'Sullivan and Rachel Vranizan--developed a structural evaluation of City Light's Sickler warehouse building in Newhalem. They designed retrofit concepts for improving the building's structural stability and energy efficiency and evaluated those options. The students' work was so good City Light used it as the basis for plans to upgrade the building.

City Light employees have mentored engineering students at Seattle University's Project Center for 15 years in an ongoing partnership that provides real-world projects for the students and highlights career opportunities at the utility.

"Seattle City Light has provided exemplary liaison engineers who have worked closely with the student teams. These engineers have demonstrated consistent commitment to the Project Center experience for our students, which is reflected in the award-winning projects," Jean Jacoby, associate dean for Seattle University's College of Science and Engineering, said. "I have been continually amazed at the quality of the student presentations and reports and other products that result."

Nirmala Gnanpragasam, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said: "Seattle City Light not only provides a great project for the seniors to work on but their liaison engineers mentor our students throughout the year taking them on site visits, meeting with them weekly, exposing the students to the standards of practice, providing presentation opportunities and getting the students adequately prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation."

 In addition to the two awards from NCEES this year, two other City Light projects received $7,500 awards in 2011 and 2012:

  • 2011 award for Structural Design of Dam Sluice Gate Walkway Slabs: Retrofit and Replacement Options.
  • 2012 award for Historic Dam Guard Rail and Vehicle Barrier Retrofit for Public Safety