The construction site of the new George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Pavilion that will house the 4141 Locomotive and Marine One helicopter was the perfect opportunity for students in CVEN446 – Structural Steel Design to learn about steel construction and the legacy of our 41st President.
Located on the Texas A&M campus, the new exhibit is framed with structural steel members resembling those designed in the CVEN446 class. At the time of the visit, the steel framing was exposed allowing for students to see the beam-column connections, the composite floor system, and the lateral bracing. Most importantly, the students recognized the constructability requirements needed to bolt, weld, and erect large structural elements in the field.
Throughout the semester the students were taught using structural and fabricator drawings of recently designed steel structures. “I’m confident every student could have specified similar member sizes, connection proportions, and cambers as the engineer of record,” he said. “Having such a unique structure so close to campus made for a learning experience I couldn’t replicate in the classroom.” Following the site tour the students were generously given guided tours by docents of the Library.
As a faculty researcher at the Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR), Dr. Skillen conducts full-scale structural testing on both steel and reinforced concrete bridge and building components with results influencing design specifications. Comparisons between experimental research campaigns and the steel design philosophy was a theme throughout the 446 class. “As structural engineers we rarely have the luxury of testing the complete final product or prototypes like other engineering disciplines,” he said. “However, with capabilities of our high-bay structures lab at the CIR, we get darn close.” Dr. Skillen is currently the PI or Co-PI on numerous TxDOT research projects, namely TxDOT project 0-7155 – Develop/Refine Design Provisions for Hooked and Headed Bar Reinforcement, that will initiate testing of full-scale TxDOT bridge structures later this year.
In addition to large-scale testing, Dr. Skillen has funded research in the area of Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) and is currently developing software aimed to minimize carbon footprint of structures through synergistic structural and material optimization.
For more information, he can be contacted at [email protected].
Source: “Students learn steel structures firsthand from construction site” by Alyson Chapman (8 May 2023)