UMKC senior civil engineering project ranks nationallyNational Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying present award April 30

As college seniors, students in the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Computing and Engineering’s capstone civil engineering studio are building bridges to the professional world – both figuratively and literally.

In recognition of this work, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) will present the capstone studio – “Redcone Civil Design Group: A Practitioner-Centric Capstone Experience” – with a $7,500 NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education. The presentation will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 30 at 4435 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. The NCEES Engineering Award recognized six nationally-accredited engineering programs that demonstrate meaningful partnerships between professional engineers and students.

Deborah O’Bannon, an associate professor of civil engineering; Thomas Kimes, an adjunct instructor and engineer; and Erich Schmitz, an adjunct instructor and engineer led the studio, which continues to partner with the Kansas City Public Works Department to provide students opportunities to work on real, constructible, and needed projects: the design of traffic-bearing bridge replacements for the Kansas City. Throughout the studio project, students are expected to understand that their ethical, professional and design decisions affect public health and safety. The practitioners, students, faculty and client share responsibilities and benefits that gain respect in the broader engineering community and ensure that UMKC’s senior design course remains a viable civil engineering capstone experience.

Students developed location studies for bridge replacements, presented design options to the Kansas City Public Works Department at City Hall and completed construction blueprints. When the City decides to replace the bridges, it will use UMKC’s designs.

As a college senior, O’Bannon was assigned a wrong-sized capstone project. But O’Bannon said the UMKC project works, because it is a right-sized project that can be accomplished in one year, it helps the City and it provides a transition from school to the workplace.

“It’s difficult to find student-sized projects in civil engineering, because we traditionally design large, civic structures that are too large and complex for students,” O’Bannon said. “We’re one of six projects in the nation to receive this award, and it means a lot because the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying conducts the professional exams that enable engineers to practice.”

Since the studio class originated in 2003, 98 students have completed Redcone Civil Design Group projects. Schmitz, who co-directed the 2009 studio, completed the studio as a UMKC civil engineering student during the 2004-2005 school year.

“After completing this program, I was able to hit the ground running as a professional engineer,” Schmitz said. “This is a unique partnership with the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, the City and professional engineers. Students at other schools don’t always have the opportunity to work on civil engineering projects like this, and Kansas City offers engineering design opportunities for our students.”

Kimes, Schmitz and O’Bannon have collaborated on several papers that highlight the Redcone Civil Design Group, as well.

About the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is a national non-profit organization composed of engineering and surveying licensing boards representing all states and U.S. territories. NCEES develops, scores, and administers the examinations used for engineering and surveying licensure throughout the United States. NCEES also provides services facilitating professional mobility for licensed engineers and surveyors. NCEES is an accredited standards developer with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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