Civil engineering students tour residence hall construction site.

A class of geotechnical engineering students tour the construction site on South Green Drive where four new residence halls are being built by Corna Kokosing and Elford.

Photographer: Rebecca F. Miller

Geotechnical expert Dave Caprio reviews technical handouts with the class.

Geotechnical expert Dave Caprio from Corna Kokosing presents civil engineering students with blueprints of the building site.

Photographer: Rebecca F. Miller

Auger cast piles support the building foundation.

These auger cast piles are columns of concrete reinforced with metal rods that will help support the foundations of the new residence halls.

Photographer: Rebecca F. Miller

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Ohio civil engineering students keep their experiential learning local

Capitalizing on the close proximity of the new Ohio University residence hall construction site on South Green Drive, Russ College civil engineering students are getting a first-hand look at construction engineering management in a series of site tours facilitated by the Office of Facilities and Auxiliaries.

Professor of Civil Engineering Terry Masada led his geotechnical engineering class to the site to observe work on the foundation of the four student housing buildings connected by a learning commons.

"I like that they're doing this for us, because I really enjoy the whole field experience," said Anthony Jacobs, a senior. "It's one thing to study theories and concepts on paper and in books, but to come out here and actually experience a construction site hands-on brings the whole learning experience full circle."

Project managers from contracting firms Corna Kokosing and Elford showed students blueprints for the $106 million project, which will add 914 beds for residential students when it's completed in July 2015.

A question-and-answer session followed, focusing on the structure's foundation, which is composed of auger cast piles, pile caps and grade beams. Auger cast piles are columns of concrete, strengthened with metal rods, embedded in the soil to support the foundation of large buildings.

"The presentations were thorough, interesting and directly related to what they are learning in civil engineering classes," Masada said.

Afterward, the students took a tour of the site to see the foundation construction in action.

"Those who braved the chilly weather were very pleased with the actual tour," Masada said. "It was an eye-opening experience for them. None of them had ever seen geotechnical site work going on in the field."

Katie Gutridge, a co-op student for Corna Kokosing and a Russ College learning lab coordinator who helped coordinate the tour, offered handouts for the students to take home about the project, a subject she is personally passionate about.

"I really, really like construction," she said. "I love the dynamic of it. Every day there's a different activity or challenge that I need to face. It's not just desk work."

Connecting classroom learning with the field work on site is an aspect of the project Thomas Simko, senior project manager for Corna Kokosing, is enjoying through the series of tours.

"I think the real world component associated with their educational background is very valuable to them moving forward," he said. "Not only does it help them understand what they're learning about in the classroom and applying it to real world conditions but it's also inspiring them that they're not only doing something on paper but it's coming to life."

Industrial and Systems Engineering students will get a field trip of their own on Wed., Nov. 20, when Assistant Professor Diana Schwerha takes them on a safety overview lecture, Q&A and site tour. Other field tours will occur spring semester.