The PCI Foundation recently approved funding a a four-year curriculum development grant for a precast bridge program at California State University at Sacramento (Sac State) to be lead by Professor Eric Matsumoto. The integrated program will combine work in schools of engineering and construction management and build on the precast work already being taught at the school to create new curriculum so a student can have up to four years of programming on precast design and construction.
"Despite the strong forecast for growth in the California precast bridge industry, existing civil engineering (ABET-accredited) and construction management (American Council for Construction Education-accredited) curricula provide students a disconcerting lack of exposure to precast concrete," says Matsumoto. Recent PCI Studios in California and around the country have taken the first step in addressing this deficiency, by introducing new PCI Foundation-supported university programs that are immersing students in educational experiences that demonstrate advantages and applications of architectural and structural precast concrete, primarily for building-type applications. This proposal builds on the success of the programs in architecture and engineering, with the expectation that the same momentum can be developed with new programs in the bridge sector. Key questions and issues that this precast bridge studio will address are:
Think outside the box! Why select precast/prestressed concrete bridges, instead of Califorina's traditional cast-in-place (CIP) post-tensioned box girder bridges? Who is the "team" that producers precast /prestressed concrete bridges, what are their roles and how do they function and coordinate together?
Best Conditions. Under what conditions and requirements are precast/prestressed concrete bridges most advantageous?
Design, materials, fabrication and construction? How does the choice of precast/prestressed concrete affect bridge design, materials, and construction ? How is a precast/prestressed concrete bridge designed, from inception to final, detailed design?
Progressive California? What are important, advanced considerations for precast/prestressed concrete bridges in California, such as seismic connections, innovative materials and self-centering precast hybrid moment frames?
The proposal for this studio was especially strong because of the all-encompassing team of partners that included not only precast concrete fabricators, but also Caltrans, consulting engineering firms, contractors, specialty partners, and a bridge software company.
Once the program is complete, a student will be able to have a full four years of precast concrete bridge education under his or her belt and leave completely ready to be hired into one of many jobs in the precast or construction industry.