University of Arizona
The faculty at University of Arizona in Tucson had the opportunity to propose a precast studio for their campus, they saw it as the perfect opportunity for the Department of Civil Engineering and the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture to work together on an integrated program. The timing was perfect, as the school was matriculating students into its new architectural engineering program who could “grow up” with the precast concrete program.
The PCI Foundation program at University of Arizona will be one of the first to ramp up to eventually offer courses across several departments with multiple faculty working together buildings, bridges, and other precast structures. The program will be able to prepare students to either work in the precast industry or design structures for a variety of other industry using precast/prestressed concrete products wisely and efficiently.
Prior to this program, all of the school’s precast work was housed in the school of engineering, where Dr. Robert Fleischman has done precast research as part of his program. “About nine months before I found out about the PCI studio, (the architecture and engineering schools) got together to work on launching a new architectural engineering program and so that group is matriculating right now. The nice thing is I am some of the three faculty that’s crafting the architecture engineering curriculum and it’s initiatives so I’m in great position to make some impact with precast there,” says Dr. Fleischman.
And in creating the new program, the school wanted to ensure that it was not just going to move students from architecture and engineering programs into the new program, but also gain new students to study at the school. So, the first step for the school was to ensure that faculty and staff would become familiar with precast concrete.
The school has been working with Coreslab (Ariz) to ensure that the students have hands on experiences and the ability to learn by doing. Phil Richardson has been coming in and doing lectures and arranging plant tours for the students.
In addition to students working across schools, they will also be visiting a variety of companies and industry plants and sites to give the students a well-rounded view of the precast/prestressed building and design industry. The UA PCI Studio field trip program will involve four different types: (1) Precast Plant Tours; (2) Precast Construction Site Visits;
(3) Precast Specialty Product Supplier Office Tours; and (4) Design Consultant Office Visits for Structural/ Architectural firms involved in precast.
In the other semester, field trips will be offered to various other associated plants, suppliers and architectural precast firms. Field trips to local construction projects using precast (buildings, parking garages, stadiums) will be identified and scheduled on a case-by-case basis, using the Precast Industry Champion and local construction companies (e.g. Sundt) for information on their upcoming projects. Finally, field trips will be scheduled to local structural and architectural design firms using precast. The first part of the program was a seminar series which involved a variety of professionals associated with precast construction including precast producers, contractors, designers, suppliers and researchers.
In addition to time in the classroom spent of precast concrete, the students at university of Arizona will have opportunities to learn more about precast concrete through student competitions including the Concrete Canoe and the PCI Big Beam Competition. Although the school has participated in the Canoe competition before, the Big Beam will be a first. The team did find that there was a learning curve for the competition.
The last piece of the University of Arizona precast puzzle is looking for internships within the precast industry for students. Prior to this program started, the faculty and industry involved were not aware of any student interns from the school working in the precast industry. To date, at least two interns have been hired for internships that are worth credit at the school by Coreslab, the industry champion for the project.
• Coreslab (Ariz.)