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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Engineering students place first in region, fourth overall in international PCI Engineering Student Design Competition

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2011

Contact: Daphne Larkin
802-485-2886 or 595-3613(m)

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Norwich University officials announced that engineering students placed first in the region and fourth overall in the 2011 international PCI Engineering Student Design Competition, also known as the Big Beam Contest.

Norwich University is the smallest institution in the competition to win in its zone, which includes all the eastern states from Virginia to Maine. The other zone winners have an average of 29,000 students (ranging from 16,000-51,000) compared to 2,100 at Norwich. In addition, this is only the second year that Norwich has participated in this competition.

Previous winners in this zone include VPI, West Point, Clarkson University, U-Mass Amherst, Tufts, Virginia Tech, Lehigh University and Pennsylvania State University.

Organized by PCI's Student Education Committee, and sponsored by Sika Corp., the Big Beam Contest entails the design, fabrication and testing of precast, prestressed concrete beams by student teams under the guidance of local PCI producer members.

Prizes are awarded for most efficient design, highest load capacity, and best report, among multiple categories. First place winners of the zone competitions move on to the international competition to be judged against one another to determine the overall champion.

“This competition tests students’ ability to create innovative, but economical, designs,” said Schmeckpeper, the Norwich team’s faculty advisor.

“Since the students fabricate their own beam, starting with the formwork, they learn about all the practical requirements for good design. Finally, when the students test their beam, they get a chance to compare their calculations to the actual strength of the beam, and observe the behavior of the beam in a real life situation. “

The Norwich University Big Beam team will receive $1,250 for its efforts.

The Norwich University Big Beam team consisted of these students: Daniel Gosselin, Nicola Suren, Logan Bessette, Austin Brochetti, and Seth Knihtila. Adam Sevi and Edwin Schmeckpeper served as the faculty advisors for the Norwich University students involved in the contest.

Joe Carrara and Benjamin Cota of J.P. Carrara & Sons of Middlebury, Vt. provided guidance and material support to the team.


Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army. Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the United States of America and the birthplace of our nation's Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu