GFU interns to tackle county shop
This will be the second time George Fox students have worked on a project with Yamhill County Public Works.
Last year, GFU interns helped on a Worden Hill paving and intersection improvement project. The county’s public works chief, John Phelan, termed that partnership beneficial for both the students and the county.
The year-long program is the capstone project for George Fox engineering students. Students are split into teams of five or six and paired with a team of professors charged with guiding them in their work. The students take on different responsibilities, as they would in a corporate environment.
“Hands-on experience is important, especially in engineering,” said Neal Ninteman, a civil engineering professor.
“I think it’s extraordinary,” he said of the county partnership. “The students learned so much on the Worden Hill Road project.”
Students did the surveying work and researched right of way and water rights issues. They presented their findings in both staff sessions and public meetings.
The surveying commitment saved the county $60,000.
Meanwhile, “The students gained a real diverse set of perspectives on what civil engineering is,” said Bob Harder, the school’s dean of engineering. “To take it from design to finish is pretty awesome for group of students.”
Besides the civil engineering students assigned to Public Works, the university has students fanning out to various industry partners in search of projects. They have been tackling projects of their own for the last 10 years, Harder said, and are always looking for new ones.
Professor David Pollock said the project allows the students to build on their class work and helps them figure out what they don’t know. Of the six students who worked on the Worden Hill project, two already have found jobs with transportation firms.
The pole building housing county shops is more than 70 years old, and has become structurally unsound. A 2012 report by Arbuckle Costic Architects Inc. recommended replacing the structure, saying renovation would cost more than it was worth.
The building’s roof sags and structural members are overstressed. Additionally, electrical work is out of code and the building does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The shop was built in 1940 on a site acquired in 1939. It originally featured a dirt floor that was paved in phases over the years.
The U.S. Army took control of the building during World War II to house cavalry horses. Afterward, it reverted to civilian use.
Phelan said the building was originally heated by wood stove. It now features heaters that consume about $35,000 worth of electricity every year, he said.
While the county does not currently have money dedicated to replacement, Phelan said he aims to work toward that end, in conjunction with the county commissioners.
Phelan is looking for a simple no-frills building providing both shop and office space in order to improve work flow. He wants the students to interview all the department’s workers so the can come up with the best design possible.
Having the engineering students create a conceptual design will lower costs on the final project, in addition to providing them with invaluable real world experience, he said.
Harder launched the university’s engineering department in 1988 and has watched it grow from three to 250 students. He termed the county “a great partner and a natural fit.”