Photo of the Saint Martin's Big Beam team at Concrete Technology Corporation
September 14, 2017

A team of Saint Martin's students won first place in the 2017 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute's Big Beam Contest. 

LACEY, Wash. – A team of Saint Martin’s students won first place in the national 2017 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big Beam Contest. PCI’s 2017 Big Beam Contest included entries from colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada.

As part of the competition, the Saint Martin’s students fabricated and submitted a prestressed concrete beam. Their beam, named “Kraken Again” in honor of Saint Martin’s second-place-winning entry from last year, “The Kraken,” was constructed with the help of the team’s sponsor, Concrete Technology Corporation (CTC) of Tacoma. The first-place finish earned the team a monetary prize of $2,000 in addition to free travel, accommodation and registration for the 2018 PCI Convention in Denver, Colorado. Saint Martin’s concrete beam scored 61.75 points, followed by Oregon State University’s second-place entry at 61.25 points.

Jill Walsh, Ph.D., PE, assistant professor of civil engineering, served as the team's advisor, and team members included: team captain Cameron Reece '17, graduate student in civil engineering; William Miller '16, graduate student in civil engineering; Paul Rumbles '17; junior Jarad Roschi; junior Joel Rogers; Clarinda Marion '17, graduate student in civil engineering; and David Rowland '17.

“I am very proud of the civil engineering students and the civil engineering faculty for winning this prestigious national competition,” said David Olwell, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering. “Dr. Jill Walsh has done an outstanding job as team faculty advisor. The success of the students also reflects the outstanding instruction on STEM fundamentals and communication that they receive from the mathematics, physics, chemistry and liberal arts faculty. We also greatly appreciate the Concrete Technology Corporation of Tacoma (especially Mr. Austin Maue) for their support of the construction of the actual beam.”

“Concrete Technology Corporation was excited to see the success of the students at Saint Martin's University in the recent PCI Big Beam Competition,” said Austin Maue, design engineer at Concrete Technology Corporation. “That is a great accomplishment and one to be very proud of. I see this as a win for the school and a win for the industry. Not only do the students gain a tremendous amount of experience and confidence in their calculations, but they can bring this knowledge of prestressed concrete with them as they go out and begin their careers.”  

The annual contest requires each team to design and fabricate a precast/prestressed concrete beam to contest specifications, then test it until it fails, measuring the actual results against their pre-test calculations and other factors. After testing, teams send their results to PCI, where they are judged on several factors, including efficiency of the design and the beam’s highest load capacity.

"This competition incorporates design, analysis, construction, report writing and large scale testing,” said Walsh. “Using calculations to predict behavior, students are in essence testing themselves and their knowledge when testing the beam to failure. The students emerge confident in the equations they learn in the classroom and get an understanding of how their plans need to be representative of what they intend to be built. This valuable, real world experience enhances their engineering confidence and makes them highly competitive when they enter the work force. Saint Martin's is proud of our students, their hard work and dedication. We are grateful to CTC for being our industry sponsor and to the University of Washington for allowing us to test in their laboratories. We are humbled to be included in this PCI competition with so many highly regarded schools."

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

For additional information:

David Olwell, Ph.D.
Dean, Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering

Jill Walsh, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering

Kevin Hyde
Media Relations Manager