University of Alabama team wins national PCI design competition with concrete beam

University of Alabama – Team B won the 2022 Big Beam competition. From left to right are Monica Amaral, Bipul Poudel, Revanth Naidu Vasireddy, and faculty advisor Sriram Aaleti. Photo courtesy Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

A team from University of Alabama won the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI)’s 2022 Engineering Design Competition, also known as the Big Beam competition.

Now in its 22nd year, the national competition teaches college students important structural engineering skills in an applied learning environment to prepare them for their future professions. Teams of students and a faculty advisor design, build, and test a 6.1-m (20-ft), precast, prestressed concrete beam. Local PCI-certified precast concrete producers act as mentors to the teams.

Entries are judged on a variety of criteria, including the beam’s performance in stress tests simulating the types of real-life conditions structural building and infrastructure components must endure to ensure life safety, as well as the quality of their analysis, presented in the form of reports and a video overview of their projects.

“PCI Big beam competition is truly a great way to teach and make the students learn and experience the process of prefabrication, prestressing, detailing and engineering prediction/failure behavior,” said Sriram Aaleti, faculty advisor for the winning team and associate professor in the department of civil, construction, and environmental engineering at The University of Alabama.

GATE Precast, Monroeville, Ala., was the sponsoring PCI member of the winning team. Among the other top three winners were another team from University of Alabama and University of Minnesota Duluth. Lehigh University was awarded the prize for the best video.

The winning team will receive their honors at the 2023 PCI Convention, Feb. 21-25, in Columbus, Ohio.

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