Fairmont State students study roadway access to East Fairmont High School

FAIRMONT — Along with industry partners in education, civil engineering technology seniors at Fairmont State University are studying a real-life engineering issue — the limited access to East Fairmont High School.

On any normal school day, dozens of cars experience gridlock on Airport Road, a road designed to accommodate much less traffic than is expected of it daily. In addition, in the event of an emergency, there is only one access point to the high school and the roadway can easily be compromised — resulting in a  dangerous situation. Furthermore, vehicles must pass through the congested Kingmont interchange, which alone creates potential safety hazards.

Combined together, it is easy to see why Fairmont State University Professor of Civil Engineering Technology (CET), Tia Como, P.E., identified this as the topic for this year’s project.

“Bringing practical experience into the classroom is so important for the young engineers of our future, and this year’s civil engineering technology capstone experience is a great example of hands-on learning,” said Como. “This year’s project studying Airport Road and access to East Fairmont High School is truly an exciting and challenging one for our students.”

As part of the specialized accreditation curriculum requirements set forth by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, a division of the Accrediting Board for Engineers and Technologists, students are exposed to a semester-long project in the Transportation and Highway Design senior capstone course each year bringing together topics they learned throughout their tenure at Fairmont State. A local transportation issue is studied in depth and used as a tool to help the students address the broad versatility of the CET curriculum.

West Virginia Division of Highways’ Donny Williams served as the key consultant. He has shared his knowledge and expertise throughout the years and has helped to guide the students toward their successful end product. The class is charged with presenting its findings to a group of local professional members from the American Society of Highway Engineers North Central West Virginia Chapter who further critique their work and enhance the intellectual intensity.

Como designed and created this project after continuous improvements of a former planning project and after annotations of the ABET team to further the design component. Upon curriculum revisions, coinciding with the mandated 120 hours of instruction, the CET faculty agreed to launch the capstone with dedicated industrial partners and concurrently place the writing intensive liberal studies requirement within this technical content. The end product is a class written report, technical drawings and an oral presentation.

Also noteworthy are the alliances with other specialized personnel from the West Virginia Division of Highways, West Virginia Local Technical Assistance Program, Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc., and The Thrasher Group.

“Transportation is one facet of civil engineering technology, a dynamic field that’s sure to keep you on your toes because no two projects are alike. I am so pleased to have this opportunity to work with the West Virginia DOH, ASHE NCWV, WV LTAP, industry professionals and the general public, to provide a thought-provoking and incredibly real capstone experience affecting the Fairmont community,” Como said.

The students will present their assessment and design ideas on  May 3, at the Bridgeport Conference Center. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. and the presentation following dinner. Those who plan to attend should RSVP by  April 27, ($20 dinner cost) to Brandon LeRoy, ASHE NCWV president, via e-mail: