The PCI Foundation serves as a not-for-profit organization to foster improvement of the quality and sustainability of the built environment, acting for the benefit of, to perform functions of, or to carry out the purposes of the Precast/ Prestressed Concrete Institute (“PCI”). The key to PCI Foundations success in introducing precast to universities where it has never been taught before is the partnership with local industry partners. PCI Foundation helps provide an incubator - a program that the schools can use, a kinship between professors teaching precast, and many positive experiences outside the classroom for students of architecture, engineering and construction management. Programs work in conjunction with content created by the PCI to create a liaison between the precast industry and education.
New Internship Program Introduced
The PCI Foundation has been working along with the National Precast Concrete Association Foundation to create both content and human resources materials to aid precast concrete producers in both attracting top-quality interns and providing the interns and the plants they work in with a meaningful experience. Members of both NPCA and PCI will be eligible to take part in this program that is scheduled to launch during the summer of 2016. More details about the program will be released on March 4 during the Precast Show in Nashville.
The PCI Foundation typically offers multi-year grants in order to help establish a new precast-focused program at a university. In 2016, many of our previous programs will continue and we will add three new programs to our roster.
University of Colorado, Denver. Working with Encon United in Denver, precast studios will investigate several architectural themes over the course of three academic years: Tectonic Expression, Programmatic Specificity and Spatial Quality. These themes maybe investigated separately or in conjunction with one another and maybe investigated as enclosure systems (facades), structural systems, and as integrated systems (structural enclosure systems). Matt Shea is the professor.
University of Washington. The program will offered as a combination of graduate level studio and summer research seminar – each offered once a year, for three consecutive years. Each summer, the students will take some of the most promising ideas initiated in the studio and develop them further – into a prototype phase. This dual course format will enable the transition of ideas from the creative design environment into early research explorations. Tyler Sprague will lead the course.
University of Michigan. Professors teaching in the masters program at University of Michigan will use the digital fabrication laboratory to apply its science and study to precast concrete. Students will explore the fabrication process and gain understanding of how that process should affect overall design ideas. Leading the program will be Glenn Wilcox at UM. Kerkstra Precast in Grandville, MI and International Precast Solutions, LLC in Detroit will head up the local studio involvement.
Programs continuing in 2016 include:
Clemson University: Professor Carlos Barrios of the School of Architecture will work with students on a precast design course during the fall 2016 semester. The program delves deep into precast design using first a study of simple structures and eventually moving to student designs of various projects. This program is in year three of a four-year study. Minnesota State at Mankato: Professors Farhad Reza and Mohamed Diab from the schools of engineering and construction management run this integrated program that will study a real-world project in conjunction with Wells Concrete in Albany, MN. Students spend time not only visiting the precast plant, but also looking at a single project from beginning to end. The program is in its second academic year.
Rhode Island School of Design: Housed in its school of architecture, this program is taught by Brett Schneider. Plans include the more comprehensive engagement with newer concrete technology – fiber reinforcement and possibly UHPC; improving our ability to fabricate full scale components through the development of dedicated exterior space for form making and casting adjacent to the Bayard Ewing Building; and the school is interested in exploring the possibility of beginning the third iteration of the studio with a large scale fabrication by the entire studio as a team in collaboration with one of our fabricator partners to exhibit at the convention.
South Dakota State University: Students at SDSU work closely in conjunction with a rural town to provide a small structure the town will find useful. The end goal being an actual project designed and built by students using precast supplied by Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls, SD. The program is led by professors Brian Rex. And Federico Garcia-Lammers. This studio typically takes place during the fall semester.
University of Southern California: Students at USC will work with Joshua Tree National Park to help create a future building plan for the park that will include precast concrete. Taught in the school of architecture by professors Douglas Noble and Karen M. Kensek, the program is in its third year. Additionally, speakers covering precast topics will be part of the enclosure conference sponsored by USC.
University of Texas at Arlington: The PCI Foundation program at UTA emphasis is the impact digital design tools on the methods and types of formwork used in precast manufacturing. The program leans heavily on team research to guide the teaching portion. Some of the topics to be covered include 1) Exploring high density foam formwork and 3D printed tensile reinforcing for branching structures 2) Using UHP-FRC in precast sandwich panels for façade application 3) Non-euclidean surface paneling using thin-set casting for horizontal applications, and 4) Exploring increased strength in computational concrete thin-shell geometry using the Guastavino assembly method. It is lead by architecture professor Bradley Bell.
Professors Seminar to Be Held at USC
The PCI Foundation is holding its second program for architecture professors who wish to learn more about precast concrete design and how it can be taught in the university classroom or studio. The program will be a three-day intensive workshop that will include instruction from college professors already teaching precast as part of grants received from the PCI Foundation, precast industry experts, and architects with precast design experience. This program is also a great opportunity to bring together professors teaching precast concrete topics so we can learn from them as well. We will be holding it in conjunction with the University of Southern California.
Student & Professor Travel Grants
Professors and selected students who participate in the PCI Foundation-funded university programs will receive travel grants to the PCI Convention or committee days. As part of this grant, they participate in a poster session where PCI members can learn first hand about the programs being sponsored by PCIF. Attendees at the convention will be able to hear more about the studios at the PCI Foundation program on Thursday March 3. Student posters will be available on the show floor of the Precast Show, with students staffing their poster on Saturday March 5 during show hours.