Trends Winter 2015 - Page 11

Bridge offers students hands-on lessons

Using the most experienced staff obviously is a must when inspecting a structure as significant as the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge . However , New Mexico State University also uses this bridge – and others in the state – as real-life classrooms for co-op students in its bridge inspection program .

The program , run through the Civil Engineering Department of NMSU ’ s College of Engineering , offers students a unique , hands-on experience , said David Jauregui , NMSU ’ s department head of civil engineering who directs the program .
“ The program has grown over the years ,” Jauregui said . “ At this time we have two crews that go out to the bridges , each headed by a professional engineer . Under each professional engineer , there are two co-op students working on sixmonth assignments , and over the course of those six months they will see between 100 and 125 bridges throughout the state of New Mexico .”
The undergraduate students perform on-site bridge inspections . Graduate structural engineering students conduct load capacity ratings . Students examine many types of bridges such as steel , reinforced and prestressed concrete , and timber . Because the Gorge Bridge requires biennial routine inspections during September in odd-numbered years , competition is tougher for students applying to be in the program during that timeframe , Jauregui said .
Ken White , professor emeritus at NMSU who spent 37 years as a faculty member and has inspected the Gorge Bridge for more than four decades , said both groups of co-op students participated in this year ’ s project , including spending time in the underbridge inspection vehicle bucket over the open gorge . Students assess everything related to bridge safety ,
including the deck , superstructure , substructure , approach roadway , waterways underneath structures , guardrails , and other features . All students are involved with gathering information and writing final reports that go to the New Mexico Department of Transportation .
“ Students really get a complete , hands-on treatment of concepts that they see in class , which sometimes can be quite abstract ,” Jauregui said . “ Here they get to put that knowledge into practice in a real-world mobile laboratory .”
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Facts
• Construction on the bridge started in 1963 and was completed in 1965 ; it was dedicated on September 10 , 1965 .
• In 1966 the American Institute of Steel Construction awarded the structure “ Most Beautiful Steel Bridge ” in the “ Long Span ” category .
• The bridge has appeared in several films , including Natural Born Killers , Twins , She ' s Having a Baby , Wild Hogs , and Terminator Salvation .
• Because of its huge tourism draw , local vendors set up each day along the highway near the bridge to sell jewelry , souvenirs , and food .
• The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River , within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument , is approximately 74 miles long as it passes through the 800-foot-deep gorge . The river flows from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado approximately 1,900 miles to the Gulf of Mexico .
• The area is a popular destination for whitewater rafting , hiking , fishing , and camping . The gorge is home to numerous species of wildlife , such as big horn sheep , river otters , and the Rio Grande cutthroat trout .
Source : Wikipedia , U . S . Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management , various news sources
TRENDS│11
Bridge offers students hands-on lessons U sing the most experienced staff obviously is a must when inspecting a structure as significant as the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. However, New Mexico State University also uses this bridge – and others in the state – as real-life classrooms for co-op students in its bridge inspection program. The program, run through the Civil Engineering Department of NMSU’s College of Engineering, offers students a unique, hands-on experience, said David Jauregui, NMSU’s department head of civil engineering who directs the program. “The program has grown over the years,” Jauregui said. “At this time we have two crews that go out to the bridges, each headed by a professional engineer. Under each professional engineer, there are two co-op students working on sixmonth assignments, and over the course of those six months they will see between 100 and 125 bridges throughout the state of New Mexico.” The undergraduate students perform on-site bridge inspections. Graduate structural engineering students conduct load capacity ratings. Students examine many types of bridges such as steel, reinforced and prestressed concrete, and timber. Because the Gorge Bridge requires biennial routine inspections during September in odd-numbered years, competition is tougher for students applying to be in the program during that timeframe, Jauregui said. Ken White, professor emeritus at NMSU who spent 37 years as a faculty member and has inspected the Gorge Bridge for more than four decades, said both groups of co-op students participated in this year’s project, including spending time in the underbridge inspection vehicle bucket over the open gorge. Students assess everything related to bridge safety, including the deck, superstructure, substructure, approach roadway, waterways underneath structures, guardrails, and other features. All students are involved with gathering information and writing final reports that go to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. “Students really get a complete, hands-on treatment of concepts that they see in class, which sometimes can be quite abstract,” Jauregui said. “Here they get to put that knowledge into practice in a real-world mobile laboratory.” Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Facts • • • • • • Construction on the bridge started in 1963 and was completed in 1965; it was dedicated on September 10, 1965. In 1966 the American Institute of Steel Construction awarded the structure “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the “Long Span” category. The bridge has appeared in several films, including Natural Born Killers, Twins, She's Having a Baby, Wild Hogs, and Terminator Salvation. Because of its huge tourism draw, local vendors set up each day along the highway near the bridge to sell jewelry, souvenirs, and food. The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, is approximately 74 miles long as it passes through the 800-foot-deep gorge. The river flows from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado approximately 1,900 miles to the Gulf 5᥍)Qɕ́ձȁѥѥȁݡѕ݅ѕȁɅѥ͡Qɝ́Ѽ)յɽ́́ݥՍ́ɸ͡ɥٕȁѕ̰ѡIɅѡɽЁɽи)Mɍ]TLѵЁѡ%ѕɥȁ ɕԁ15аمɥ́́ͽɍ()QI9L(+R((