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Russ College students design and build boating improvement for Strouds Run State Park

Bennett Leckrone | Mar 22, 2019
Kids digging

Russ College students design and build boating improvement for Strouds Run State Park

Bennett Leckrone | Mar 22, 2019

Strouds Run State Park has a new kayak launch ramp, thanks to members of Ohio University’s student chapter of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society.

For Chi Epsilon President Jacob Campbell, a first year civil engineering master’s student and the originator of the year-long, design-and-build project, the long hours spent working on the kayak ramp in the cold and mud were incredibly rewarding.

“It was pretty exciting to see something that I designed being built by us,” Campbell said. “It was completely ours.”

The kayak ramp was much needed, Mimi Morrison, a board member of the Friends of Strouds Run said.

“The cement ramp at Strouds was designed for the bigger boats,” Morrison said. “It presented challenges and risks for people entering the water in a kayak.”

Campbell added that varying water levels made the boat launch slippery at times, leading to injuries to kayakers. He noted that the elderly and people with disabilities had particular difficulties launching kayaks, sometimes limiting their ability to kayak on the Dow Lake at all.

“Our main focus was safety,” he said.

Morrison was impressed by the Chi Epsilon students’ work ethic throughout the whole process, which involved designing, acquiring funding and resources from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of Strouds Run, and even helping to construct the kayak ramp.

“I have been completely overwhelmed and impressed with Ohio University being a part of this. I think it speaks beyond highly of the students -- I watched seven students on Saturday move seven tons of stone by shovel and wheelbarrow through mud,” Morrison said. “I have spoken to so many people, especially to the board of Friends of Strouds, about the intensity and immensity of what students have contributed."

Daniel Che, assistant professor of civil engineering, said the project, for which the students volunteered and worked for free, embodies civil engineering.

“Civil engineering is truly a people-serving profession, and students are really using what they’ve learned at the Russ College,” Che said. “They’ve had a huge, huge impact on the people in Athens County. It makes people safer.”

The kayak ramp is currently functional, but aesthetic improvements and final touches will be added throughout the summer once the ground dries and equipment can be moved.

Sean Neef, BSCE ’18, a first-year civil engineering master’s student and former Chi Epsilon president, agreed with Campbell in saying that their foundational work at the Russ College and as undergraduate researchers prepared them to work in the field and complete the project. For Neef, civil engineering work revolves around being outgoing and helping members of the community.

“It’s literally the definition of creating for good,” Neef said.

Colleen Carow and Marissa McDaid contributed to this story.