Saturday, February 27, 2010

Final Civil Engineering Design Project Winner!

Disclaimer:  I think this post may have gotten too long.  If you want a quick summary just jump to the last paragraph!  I cannot be held accountable for severe eye strain or information overload.

Every year the University of Western Ontario hosts a design competition in conjunction with The City of London.  There is a final design project for all engineering streams, but only civil students can enter The City of London competition.  The judges have $3600 to award in any way they wish.

This year there were three different projects to take on.  Groups could either design a highway overpass near a major city corridor, a replacement reservoir for the city water supply, or the filtration system for one of the city's water treatment facilities.  These are all actual projects that the city will need to do in the near future.  They aren't in the budget yet, but are often built 5 years or so after the competition takes place.

By entering the competition, anything that you used (such as drawings, reports) becomes property of the city.  They use these projects as a starting point to evaluate various design alternatives.  In many cases the structures built are very similar to those provided in the project submissions.  They do have to redesign though because we aren't legally licensed to practice engineering yet, which takes four years of experience and several other requirements.  It's actually illegal for me to refer to myself as an engineer at this point.  As you can see, it is a real engineering project.  We get the benefit of experience and the city gets design alternatives.  My group (five people) chose to do the reservoir project.

The current reservoir holds about 45 million litres.  It's about the size of a small soccer field and has a floating cover.  It's located on Reservoir Hill which is one of the highest points in the city.  This way water can be drained into the city by gravity and it continues to run if there is a power outage.

The requirement was to double the capacity while remaining in the current footprint (102x76m or 335x250ft).  This means going up or digging down.  The current reservoir actually needs to be shut down in the winter because of the floating cover and lack of insulation.  We decided to place the new one underground so it can operate all year.

Instead of making one giant reservoir, we actually divided it into four chambers.  So it basically looks like four little water boxes squished together.  We did this because there was a small earthquake that damaged another reservoir in the area a few years ago.  London isn't a high seismic zone but because these structures are so large and hold a huge amount of water, they can sometimes be more susceptible to damage.  so if something happens again and only one chamber is damaged, the others can remain operational during repairs.

I'll upload pictures later if I can.  I'm not sure about the legalities.  I don't know if The City of London owns the design, specific drawings, or literally just the material we handed into them.  I also haven't asked my group if I can upload anything.  There is a 3D render but this was done by an outside company and I would have to ask to upload the image.

So I can't wait and I'll upload this one for now.  It mostly gets across the concept.  It was done by Wes Kinghorn of Projected Images.  There would be 4 of these chambers.

The final design project is actually a course required for graduation.  There are lectures, guest speakers and we are required to work on our designs outside of class hours.  Advisors are provided from both the faculty and industry, from various engineering firms in London.  The City of London competition is actually optional and not a requirement of the course (but I don't think anyone has ever decided not to enter).

There was a panel of 5 or 6 judges from various engineering firms across the city.  In the morning they reviewed our projects and in the afternoon they watched the presentations (11 groups).  After this the left for about 45 minutes to determine a winner.  As mentioned previously, the judges had $3600 to award in prize money.  They almost always break it up into 3 prizes (sometimes 2) with a first, second and third place.

When they got back this year, they announced a 3-way tie.  This was really unexpected.  They had actually already printed the temporary certificates and they were for first, second, and third place.  Someone had to run out and print two other first place ones!  My group was one of the winners!  So we get to split $1200!!  We actually were the first group called up to receive and award (so clearly I'm going to assume we were the best of the three :)).  After putting in about and extra 15 - 20 hours a week working on this projects I was really excited to get something in return!

The final report for the course is due on Monday.  Then the course is done!  I'll have so much extra time to work on my other course work devote to plants.  I'll be able to go to the greenhouses regularly again!  Yeah!

Hopefully this post wasn't too long and boring.  I've probably given WAAAYYYY too much detail and too few pictures.  Basically, my group designed an underground reservoir, won and I get to split $1200 with them!


  1. I cheated. I read the last paragraph first, then went back and read the whole post. It's hard for me not to do that with books, especially good books when I really want to know what happened to the character. But I digress. Wanted to say congrats, man! That's pretty cool. Hope you can post the pic. I'd love to see it.

  2. Just started following your blog the other day after doing a search on Conophytums. Congrats on your win and completing your project!

  3. How awesome!!! This was a HUGE project! You deserve to win!!! Very cool. Congratulations!

    P.S. I enjoyed reading about it all, and I'm glad you posted it so we could!!! Thanks!!!

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Randy, it's alright that you cheated. I forgive you - this time.

    Julie, it really was a giant project. It was exhausting but pretty much done!

    Kaveh, welcome to the blog. I'll be uploading some more pics of the sprouts tomorrow. My lithops also started to sprout!

  5. Congratulations, dude! I'll be sure to tell this story to my friends who live in London and are getting married oh-so-frikkin'-soon.

    Now that you're a winner, what are you going to do with your share?! ...can I guess? Is it plant-related?

  6. That's awesome news, congratulations! The design looks really good.

  7. Congrats! Now treat yourself to something wonderful. You deserve [more seed/plant material] it! :)

  8. I'd like it to be plant related but room is running out. If I end up relocating for a new job, they'll be a bunch more room. Then plants. Many many many more plants... Hopefully in a location 2 or 3 zones warmer!

    Thanks again everyone!!

  9. That is fantastic! Congratulations!

  10. Thanks! We spent another 9 and a half hours finishing up the course report today. Tomorrow we hand it in and it's all done!!

  11. YAy... you owe me beer. Just kidding!!! ;)


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