Capstone Expo teams present road studies, wind-tunnel tests, police HQ designs

This is the second year CEE has sent teams to the expo
Monday, April 25, 2016

Capstone Design Expo
McCamish Pavilion

Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

You can walk around and talk to the more than 200 teams participating this year until 7:30 p.m.


For only the second time, teams from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will be participating in Georgia Tech’s Capstone Design Expo April 26.

The event gathers seniors from disciplines across campus who are completing projects in their senior design or capstone design courses. Four teams of CEE students will be among them this year.

Those teams are designing a tricky roundabout for Cobb County, assessing the wind load on an unusually shaped air traffic control tower, designing a new headquarters for the Georgia Tech Police Department, and completing a corridor study for a road that will see traffic grow 300 percent in the next two decades.

Click a photo to learn more about the teams' projects:

Model of an unusually shaped air traffic control tower. Computer model of a new Georgia Tech Police Department facility. 3-D visualization of where toll lane traffic will exit onto Hickory Grove Road in Cobb County. The intersection of Holly Springs Road and Old Canton Road in Marietta, Georgia.




Analysis of Wind Loads on an Unusual Structure
Decagon Planning and Design

Expo Table Location: Y26

“I think the consensus came when we were told [this project] was going to be difficult. It sort of reinforced our resolve that this was the one we were going to do.”

— Christopher Haff

Details: The team must assess how winds will affect an unusual air traffic control tower in South Florida. The location makes the design requirements more stringent given its spot in prime hurricane territory, so the team must test the structure with 170 mph winds. To do that, they designed a model of the tower and performed scaled-down wind-tunnel tests. They’re also looking extensively at the kind of foundation that will be required for the tower to withstand the wind loads.

Team members Marc Cohen and Christopher Haff said they’re looking forward to representing the School in front of other engineering students.

“Talking to other students from other majors at Tech, they don’t really seem to know what civil engineering is or how important it is,” Cohen said. “An electrical engineer doesn’t really know anything about foundations or probably doesn’t really care.”

Haff interjected: “I think we will be able to demonstrate that there is quite a bit that goes into the process in terms of designing and safety.”


Georgia Tech Police Facility
Extegrity Engineering

Expo Table Location: B10

“The big thing that I noticed right away was that there is so much more to the design process than what you see on the surface. I think one of the biggest elements is coordination and making sure [the clients, the architect and the design team are] on the same page.”

— Ryan Krusko

Details: When Georgia Tech builds the campus’ new “living building,” the Georgia Tech Police Department will lose its current facility at the corner of Ferst Drive and Hemphill Avenue NW. The team must complete the structural design for a new police headquarters on a parcel located at 10th Street and Hemphill Avenue NW, paying special attention to sustainability.

Originally, the goal was to retrofit an abandoned church on the site, but work with the project’s sponsors ultimately led the team to start from scratch and design a new facility altogether. Adding to the complexity: stringent and unique standards for police buildings and a requirement for the building to fit into Tech’s new “eco-commons,” meaning it will have solar panels on the roof and needs to include building materials that are less carbon-intensive and more energy efficient.

“There is a lot of time spent on things you just don’t notice,” said Johnny Hu. “At face level, it is just designing the building, but you have to take into account how many rooms there need to be and what will be the size of each individual room. You have to consider the column placement and make sure the columns aren’t going through the dead center in the room. Of course, given that it is a police station, there has to be tons of parking.”

Hickory Grove Road Corridor Study
J.A.C. Forbes

Expo Table Location: Y23

“We are excited [to participate in Capstone Expo]. I have heard about it, and I just didn’t think a lot of civil projects get in because it’s usually for people who are making devices and stuff like that. It’s cool to have actual companies coming around and looking at your ideas and what you have come up with.”

— Kevin Forbes

Details: When the Georgia Department of Transportation opens new toll lanes along Interstate 75 in Cobb County, Hickory Grove Road will start to see a sharp increase in traffic — on the order of a 300 percent jump by 2035. The managed lanes will include an exit ramp onto what is currently a small-ish road. The team must assess the impact of that additional volume on the flow of traffic and identify trouble spots. They’re using a new 3-D visualization tool called VisSim to show the resulting backup.

“[Cobb DOT] can look at our information and see that these are our problem areas,” said Colton Zierl. “They’re not going to have to go through and calculate how long the delay is going to be here, how many cars are going to be stacked up at this intersection. They are going to be able to see, here is a problem, how can we solve it?”

The VisSim program is new technology for transportation planners, so the team also will be showing Cobb transportation officials how it could be valuable in their day-to-day work.


Holly Springs Road & Old Canton Road Roundabout
Stryd Transportation

Expo Table Location: Y24

“We picked [this project] based on what we could see ourselves doing in the future. We thought this would be more relevant to what we would be doing in our full-time jobs, and also, this gave us the opportunity to work with Cobb County.”

— Lilian Ayala

Details: The team must complete 90 percent of the construction planning for a roundabout for an existing intersection at Holly Springs Road and Old Canton Road in Marietta, Georgia. Currently, Old Canton Road ends at a stop sign at Holly Springs, where, team members said, traffic approaching the area typically travels faster than the speed limit. Cobb County DOT officials want to add the roundabout to improve overall flow through the area and reduce the potential for crashes.

“One of the visions for Cobb County as it goes to the future is for them to put roundabouts any place that they can,” said Sage Roberts. “They are a lot safer than most intersections, because a normal [four-way] intersection has 32 points of conflict while a roundabout only has 8. So it reduces the potential points of crashes by a lot.”

The team has had to create a more-complicated-than-usual design to accommodate how drivers travel through the area, and they’ve had to keep its size to a minimum because of private property in the area and a recreation center parking lot. Roberts said the roundabout will slow traffic initially until people get used to it, then it will improve traffic in the area.

“Since there is a roundabout right up the road, people that live in this area are already used to them, so we feel like our capacity for this one is already higher than an introductory roundabout because people are familiar with the movements already.”