Group Design Project

In lieu of a thesis, M.Eng. in structural engineering students complete a group design project. To fulfill this requirement, groups of three to five students team up to design a major structure over the course of the 10-month program. Each year students work on a new project, selected by the professor of practice with guidance from the program’s executive advisory board.

Our professional partners provide the students with actual architectural drawings of the structure, as well as other reports or data relevant to the project. Equipped with these real-world tools, students perform a comprehensive structural code review, investigate various structural systems, and select gravity and lateral force-resisting systems to complete the structural design.

Groups meet with the professor of practice on a regular basis to monitor progress and address questions. At various intervals students submit progress reports, including drawings, calculations and narratives, for her review. At the end of both the fall and spring semesters,the student groups formally present their respective designs to the faculty, executive advisory board, and invited guests.

The Class of 2011 design project

This year’s class is designing multiple buildings from “Slava,” a mixed-use development located in Moscow, Russia. Thornton Tomasetti is the structural engineer of record and Swanke Hayden Connell is the architect of record.

The project consists of six buildings that range in height from 10 to 22 stories above grade and includes a shared, five-story parking garage below grade that spans the entire complex. Pedestrian bridges connect the individual buildings to each other above grade. The lower levels of the buildings are public spaces designed for retail, dining, and entertainment establishments. Offices will occupy the upper floors.

Six teams of M.Eng. students are designing three different structures from the complex, a model that fosters competition between two competing teams. In order to apply the International Building Code (the primary building code of the United States) the Slava complex has been “moved” to Moscow, Pennsylvania.

The Class of 2010 design project

The Structural Engineering Class of 2010 designed two structures for their group design project. The first structure is a 22-story, L-shaped office building located in the Harlem section of New York, New York, which also includes retail spaces and underground parking. Complicating the structure are multiple roof setbacks and three columns that transfer out to provide column-free spaces at the lower levels. The structural engineer of record for the project is DeSimone Consulting Engineers and the architect of record is Swanke Hayden Connell.

The second structure in the design project is a 10-story parking garage. The real parking structure that inspired the project was constructed in Baltimore, Maryland and also included three stories of office space above the garage. For the purposes of the design project, we located the 10-story parking garage adjacent to the 22-story office building in New York, New York. The precast engineer for the parking garage was Tindall Corporation, the structural engineer of record was Cagley & Associates, and the architect of record was Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern.

Each group performed a code review, a structural system study, and produced preliminary designs of a typical floor for both the office tower and the parking garage. For the final, comprehensive structural design, the class focused strictly on the high-rise office tower.

Click here to view additional images of the Class of 2010 project.

The Class of 2009 design project

The M.Eng. in Structural Engineering Class of 2009 designed an L-shaped, 10-story hotel and one-story conference center located in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. The structural engineer of record was CMX Engineers and the architect of record was Milton Pate Architects.

A versatile structural layout allowed the students to investigate a number of different structural systems, including steel staggered truss, composite steel beams, precast concrete, conventional concrete two-way flat plate, and post-tensioned concrete two-way flat plate.

The 2009 project ended the year with an added twist. To test their seismic design skills, the students relocated their structure to Los Angeles, California and evaluated the effect of the move on the lateral force resisting system. Students subsequently redesigned the lateral force resisting system and detailed at least one connection in accordance with the rigorous demands of Seismic Design Category D.

Click here to view images of the Class of 2009 project.