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Idaho Studio Rose to Challenge When "No Travel" Order Was Instituted

Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho

The faculty at Idaho State University needed to get creative to give students a fully realized Precast Studio experience while the school had a strict no travel order. Typically, the Studio experience includes taking students off-campus on field trips and other off-campus visits. Sometimes a great solution is right in your own back yard.

The L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, a beautiful precast building on campus, turned out to be a great resource for the students who could see precast in person. “While we can't see the integral part of the precast and how it fits together we can nonetheless talk about and show the final product, which for engineering students, that's the part we don't do so well with, is visualizing a nice, beautiful product,” says Bruce Savage, department chair.

The team also made use of the school’s Disaster Response Complex, a school complex where the students can simulate a collapsed structure during an earthquake or human-made disaster.

The professors also brought speakers in via Zoom, and used the digital resources made available by PCI and NPCA. Students were not required to be on campus or in the laboratory, but most of them chose to be there. Instead, all of the laboratory tests were digitally recorded, which gave the students an unusual chance to go back and review the work in the lab.


Mustafa Mashal, PhD, PE, SECB, CPEng, IntPE (NZ), MASCE

Associate Professor

Bruce Savage, PhD, PE, MASCE

Professor and Chair

Industry Partners

American Segmental Bridge Institute

Gregg Freeby

Ash Grove Cement Company

Heath Hall

CONTECH Engineered Solutions

Chad Kitchen


Mike Consalvi

Forterra Structural Precast

Jim McGuire

Idaho Transportation Department

Michael Johnson

J-U-B Engineers

Alan Cukurs

Knife River Prestress

Melissa Verwest

National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA)

Eric Carleton

Oldcastle Infrastructure

Troy Banks

PCI Mountain States

Jim Schneider

RJ Watson Inc.

Ron Watson

Teton Prestress Concrete

Hal Simmons

US Formliners

Ray Clark

Unique Program Aspects
  • First jointly funded studio by PCI Foundation and the NPCA Foundation

  • The only Studio that covers both structural and hydraulics design aspects

  • State-of-the-art large-scale laboratories for hands-on activities

  • Faculty with extensive industry experience and relationships with PCI and NPCA

  • Support from the Idaho Transportation Department and American Segmental Bridge Institute

  • Research opportunities in precast for the students in the Studio

  • Outreach to professional engineers and offering a shorter version of the Studio to professional engineers from the Idaho Transportation Department and other entities

Student Statistics
  • Students (6 graduate and 3 undergraduate) from the United States, Nepal and Nigeria

  • Graduating students took jobs at Department of Transportation, Transportation Engineering Firms, Graduate School at Idaho State University (PhD level)

  • Other students have internships with the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State University


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