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Press Release for Thursday, August 9, 2012

UNF Engineering Team Wins Big Beam Student Design Award

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 




A University of North Florida student civil engineering team was recently selected as the regional winner of the 2012 Engineering Student Design Award, also known as the Big Beam Contest, by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). The team also placed fourth for the first time in the national competition, coming home with a grand total of $1,250 in award monies, provided by the SIKA Corporation and PCI. 


“We are extremely proud of the students who won this competition. These types of events provide important opportunities for the students to gain real-world experience and clearly demonstrate that UNF’s engineering programs are among the best in the state and nation,” said Dr. Mark Tumeo, dean of the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction.  


The objective of the Big Beam Contest, sponsored by PCI producers, is for teams of students to design, fabricate and test a precast, pre-stressed concrete beam with the help of local precast concrete producer members. Prizes are awarded based on efficient design, design accuracy, most accurate prediction of maximum load capacity and other categories. The UNF team received $1,000 for winning first place in the regional competition and $250 for its fourth-place national win. 


The winning team, sponsored by Gate Precast, was comprised of UNF seniors Adam Dooley and Andrew Isildar (team captain/beam designer) as well as UNF graduate student Matthew Graeff (beam designer). Dr. Adel ElSafty, UNF associate professor of civil engineering, served as the team’s faculty adviser, teaching his students the pre-stressed concrete design and calculations as well as coordinating with PCI and Gate Precast. UNF alumnus Tim Morgan assisted in beam set up and testing, while Tom Newton, Gate Precast’s vice president of operations, served as the team’s PCI producer. 


“The PCI Big Beam competition has not only been an exciting and formidable challenge, but it has also been an invaluable opportunity for understanding how engineering concepts come together in a real-world project,” said Isildar. “We consider our success in this competition to be an initiation into the field of structural engineering, and we will move forward with great confidence and enthusiasm.” 


In this year’s regional competition, UNF defeated University of South Florida (second place), University of North Carolina at Charlotte (third place) and the University of Central Florida (fourth place). UNF placed second in the regional competition in 2010 and 2009. Nationally, the student engineering team is in league with the University of Texas-Austin (first), University of Kansas (second) and the University of Notre Dame (third).  


The Student Judging Committee selects first-place winners from each of the six PCI regional zones, along with international entries, competing for the overall championship. First-place teams in each zone are then entered into the national competition.  


UNF’s School of Engineering offers both Bachelor of Science and graduate degrees in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. All of its programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.