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Oregon Tech civil engineering students teach Lost River STEM club

May 12, 2017
Oregon Tech linked up with Lost River Jr./Sr. High School to build bridges – both metaphorical and actual – between the two schools.

by Samantha Tipler, public relations, Klamath County School District

Oregon Tech has linked up with Lost River Jr./Sr. High School to build bridges – both metaphorical and actual – between the two schools. Since March 17, the Oregon Tech Student Chapter of ASCE-AGC have been working with the Lost River STEM Club to design and build a bridge on the Oregon Tech trail up to the “O” near the solar power array on campus.OTBridge2017

“You wouldn’t think a couple seventh graders would be much help to make a big old bridge,” said Dustyn Verley, 13, “but it makes us pretty proud, I’d say.” Dystyn said that after helping pour concrete into wood forms on Friday, May 5. That was a no-school day for students and 13 of the 20 STEM Club members spent the day building the forms and digging holes for the concrete bridge.

“They’re gaining real life experience in seeing how bridges are built,” Lost River science teacher Mark Ferrara said, showing blisters on his own hands from digging. “This is a real-life bridge. They’ll get to walk across it. We’re getting blisters. We’re actually building a bridge.”

The Oregon Tech students said this has been a good experience in showing the younger students all the different steps that go into building a bridge. “You have to come up with an idea, you have to design it, and then build it,” said Kurtis Pipkin, a civil engineering student who worked with fellow student Tyler Van Meter as project managers. “Working with the kids, it’s cool to show them the interesting parts and all that goes into an engineering project.”

Students started by learning to make scale models with popsicle sticks, then learned about computer modeling from the Oregon Tech students. Together they voted for the concrete bridge design and eventually lent a hand building the actual bridge.

“It’s been a learning curve, but it’s definitely been beneficial for everyone involved,” said civil engineering student Grant Banister. “Just figuring out how to work with another group of people, coordinating all that.”

Oregon Tech Civil Engineering professor Charles Riley first proposed building the bridge in December 2016. Ferrara said the civil engineering students put in their own time to make it happen. “They’re just doing this because they thought it would be a cool project,” Ferrara said.

“It’s a nice addition,” Tyler Van Meter, one of the civil engineering project managers said. “It’s a cool thing for OIT to have.”

The Lost River students said they learned a lot, and enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the project.

“I really like engineering. I get to do what I love. It helps you get ready for life because if you want to be an engineer, you need experience,” said Dexter Jones, 13, who wants to be a military engineer. “I’ve always been good at problem solving and looking at things in a different angle. It’s fun. It’s interesting. There’s always possibilities for what you can do.”

“It was a learning experience,” Dustyn said. “I’ve never even thought of doing this before. It was pretty cool."

Concrete for this project was kindly donated by Knife River Corporation.
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