This is the design of a prestressed concrete beam for the annual Big Beam Competition annually held in the Northeast. The competition grades entrants based on performance against a given set of loads and overall quality of design.
To design the beam, beam geometry was optimized using both personal judgment and Microsoft Excel. The drawings for the beam and the calculations are included in this video. The video charts the series of decisions we made for the competition, how the beam was fabricated, analyzed and tested and the overall cost for the beam.
It was announced on January 12, 2012 that we placed first for best overall performance. In March, we will be award a cash prize of $900.
I'm currently earning my masters in structural engineering at Lehigh University, but I hold a bachelors of architecture from the University of Oregon. What I would like to write about has to do with my aforementioned diverse background, i.e., what lessons I've learned in structural engineering that may help me as an architect in the near future.