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Be Prepared - Engineering Class Designs for the 2012 Olympics
Professor Christian Meyer's Design Projects class at Columbia University is working on proposals to ready Baker Field for the New York 2012 Olympic games.

While most college seniors are battling senioritis, those in civil engineering professor Christian Meyer’s Design Projects class at Columbia University in New York City hardly have time for that. They are preparing a proposal to modify Columbia's Baker Field, a stadium that will become the venue for Olympic field hockey if the Big Apple wins its bid for the 2012 Summer Games.

While the university owns the stadium, located at the far north end of Manhattan, it also falls under the city's jurisdiction. The venue, which currently holds 17,000 fans, would need to be upgraded to handle a crowd of 25,000. The project was designed to meet the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)’s engineering credential evaluation. "Everything that is civil engineering is addressed by this project, and we need to be very conscious of the limitations, " Meyer says. The goal of this project isn’t to do the job of a consulting firm that would be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, he explains.

This capstone design course is supposed to integrate everything the students have learned in the past three and a half years, according to Meyer. Student Eytan Solomon is confident he and other class members are prepared for the challenge. "We’ve taken Structural Analysis and Structural design, and last semester, we took Structural Design Projects, which consisted of three smaller projects." Solomon says coursework in construction management and Auto-Cad is also beneficial. Students are also responsible for surveying the site, managing underground utilities, transportation, environmental and regulatory issues, and studying the possibility of adding a roof to the complex, he says.

Baker Field, Columbia University's stadium, would need to be enlarged from 17,000 seats to 25,000.

But Solomon’s involvement in civil engineering goes beyond the classroom. For the past year, he has been president of the university’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and is also involved with the American Institute of Steel Construction's steel bridge competition. "This year, the bridge is 21 feet long," Solomon says. After graduating this spring, he plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a master's degree in Structural Engineering and is currently working part-time for the Structural Engineers Association of New York. The graduating senior also finds time to serve as a hiking leader for one of Columbia’s freshman orientation programs and to compete nationally on the university’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, Solomon, 21, says he’s always had engineering in his blood. "Going back, I was fond of Legos, and building cities and structures and bridges," he says. But the decision to become a civil engineering major came during his sophomore year at Columbia when he saw what two of his roommates were doing within the major. "They influenced me." Solomon says. "They were doing good stuff, and great projects."

The seniors' project is due this month during the class’ final exam period. Although it is not an official proposal, students hope it will open doors for them in the industry job market or at lease give them taste of the structural engineering field. Solomon, a member of the class' roof design group, already has big plans for the structure. "The professor wants something that can be recognized as part of the New York City skyline," he says.


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