Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Backel Adds Third Academic All-America Honor

Big 12 javelin champion is Oklahoma's first ever three-time Academic All-American.

June 24, 2010

NORMAN, Okla. — Amy Backel placed her name on a distinctive list in Oklahoma athletics history Thursday. So distinctive, Backel is the only name on the list as she became Oklahoma’s first ever, male or female, three-time ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-American as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The announcement comes just under two weeks after Backel, a civil engineering major, earned her second All-America honor in the javelin, an event she captured the 2010 Big 12 Championship in.

The Academic All-America honor is the latest in a long line of accomplishments for Backel, both on and off the competitive field. The senior from Dillsburg, Pa., was named the 2010 OU College of Engineering Outstanding Senior in Civil Engineering and has been named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team all four years of her athletic career, carrying a 4.0 grade point average for three of the four years. In her collegiate career, Backel, who is beginning work on her master’s degree in engineering, recorded a B just once.

Backel owns six All-Big 12 honors and was also recently named a recipient of the Big 12’s Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship. Backel is also the first ever female athlete at OU to earn three ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District honors.

A three-time NCAA Championship qualifier, Backel officially closes out her collegiate career Friday morning as she competes in the javelin at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

OU engineering project bridges classroom to real world

OU civil engineering students weather delays to build a 270-foot pedestrian bridge and pier at Norman's Morgan Park, OU's largest student-led project of its kind.

By James S. Tyree | | Published: June 1, 2010

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma's school year ended two weeks ago, but several civil engineering students continued working on a project this week that will enhance a Norman neighborhood.

University of Oklahoma civil engineering students build a 270-foot pedestrian bridge and fishing pier at Morgan Park on Thursday.

The students completed a 270-foot pedestrian bridge and fishing pier over a large pond at William Morgan Park on Thursday, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. The park is in a neighborhood just east of 36th Avenue NW and north of Robinson Street.

Chris Ramseyer, an OU assistant professor of civil engineering, said the project's planning and construction was unprecedented for the students involved.

"This is the largest project the student organizations have ever attempted,” he said of the American Society of Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering Institute chapters.

Ramseyer said the wheelchair-accessible bridge will extend a walking trail from about 200 yards to a full mile. One area, shaped like an open square, will serve as an outdoor classroom where OU associate professor Bob Nairn can teach about wetlands and aquatic life.

The process started in October when city officials asked engineering students and faculty to replace the deck and make a few repairs to the 10-year-old bridge. But upon further examination, they found the entire structure needed to be replaced.

The city of Norman agreed to provide about $8,000 in supplies while students supplied the labor and expertise with help from faculty adviser Ramseyer.

"And of course, I have bought an awful lot of pizza,” Ramseyer said.

Rain and winter weather delayed the project for months, but the group has worked each weekday since May 17, the Monday after commencement, to complete the structure.

A student team led by Michael Van Zandt and Chris Davis designed a structure that should last much longer and be more stable than the previous one. The deck is supported by about three dozen wood frames driven into the mud until a bearing bar reached the bottom of the pond.

Ramseyer said the new base is stronger and more environmentally friendly than if built on concrete.

"I'm a guy who gets to jump in the water,” said David Frank, a master's student in tall waders. "This is the most hands-on project, for sure. Course work can't teach you communication, and that's what you get out here because you work on a team — plus it's fun.”

Cassie Gonzales, a junior from Flower Mound, Texas, pointed to another innovation — metal tension rods installed across the 6-foot width every few feet.

They are accompanied by three small boards, and together the rods and boards distribute weight evenly by stiffening the deck and making its individual parts work as one.

"That's something I've learned here,” she said, "along with working with power tools for cutting and drilling.”

Other team members are Patrick Crowder, Carlos Rincon, Jesse Roswurm and Seth Roswurm.