Engineering Discovery Day Engages Next Generation of Road and Bridge Designers

HNTB Corporation partners with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan and Lawrence Tech eLearning.

Detroit (PRWEB) November 12, 2013

HNTB Corporation has partnered with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan and Lawrence Tech eLearning to provide high school students an engaging and entertaining introduction to the field of surface transportation engineering.

“As professional engineers, we take great pride in moving complex infrastructure projects from planning through design and ultimately to the ribbon cutting and beyond,” said Len Becker, PE, HNTB Detroit office leader. “This education program is an important way we can raise awareness of civil engineering and get kids excited about the field. We’re happy to support MDOT in this unique, hands-on curriculum.”

At each of the two most recent sessions, held at the University of Michigan and Lawrence Tech eLearning, approximately 80 high school students, 30 college-aged team leads and five interns gained insights from HNTB and MDOT engineers, while also learning how fun the science behind engineering can be. That included an overview of road design using 3-D animation and then learning how bridge and roadway engineering often begins with developing an understanding of how to deal with unique problems on the ground. In one exercise, the students developed a curving roadway and then tested their designs using Hot Wheels tracks to observe and measure speed. In another, students used West Point Bridge Design software to design and test-load a virtual bridge.

Students also had the opportunity to mix concrete and pour sample beams, some with steel bars and some without, which were then tested and broken under stress to observe how they responded differently. Concrete is used extensively for transportation, so understanding how the ingredients work together, harden and are strengthened is a crucial part of developing many projects.

A distracted driving simulator gave students a better understanding of how texting behind the wheel is never a good idea.

“This program wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of Greg Johnson, MDOT chief operating officer, and the support of a related federal grant program,” Becker said. “We’re looking forward to continue such educational efforts in the future.”

HNTB has been a fixture in the Detroit transportation engineering community for nearly 20 years, and the firm has maintained close ties with the region’s transportation and automobile industry for nearly a century. Some of the firm’s notable work in the region includes the redevelopment of the Detroit Airport North Terminal and plans for a new Detroit-Windsor bridge crossing. Since 2005, the firm has been involved in a growing number of projects related to the national Connected Vehicle initiative, including designing and building one of the first live test beds in Ann Arbor, Mich., with MDOT.

HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors. With nearly a century of service, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program delivery and construction management. For more information, visit


  • John O'Connell
    HNTB Corporation
    (816) 527-2383
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