Hillcrest High School CE Club – 2019-2020 Summary

On Friday September 13, 2019 architect Nathan Huette had the opportunity to inspire and share his experience at Corgan with students with Hillcrest Hight School students. Nathan covered the history of architecture and walked students through how architects plan out and design a building from concept to construction. The students really enjoyed hearing about architecture. Nathan spent about ten minutes after the presentation having an open discussion with the students and answering their questions.


On Friday October 25, 2019 civil engineer Fernando Ceballos with Pape Dawson Engineers had the opportunity to share his experience with Hillcrest Hight School students. Students spent time learning about the Pape Dawson Engineers services, opportunities they could pursue in civil engineering and specifically learned the intricacies of taking a land development project from start-to-finish. They learned about the types of stakeholders in a project, different elements of a city, zoning, thoroughfare plans, master plans, flooding/drainage concerns and the different type of site conditions to consider.


On Friday November 22, 2019 civil engineering and architecture students at the University of Texas At Arlington had the opportunity to share their college experience with Hillcrest Hight School students. Letty Duarte, Naomi Borrego, Olivia Mitchell, and Ally Auger presented on their experience and extra circular activities that are just as important as attending class. They covered the involvement in ASCE, Chi Epsilon, Steel Bridge Competition, Concrete Canoe, and Student Symposium. The students were engaged and asked questions about being course load, attending monthly ASCE and other organization meetings, and how to become more involved. The UTA students also covered the importance of networking and working internship positions in different fields to expand their knowledge.

On March 4th, shortly after participating in a discussion about mechanically-stabilized earth (MSE) structures and geotechnical engineering, students of Hillcrest High School’s Civil Engineering Club teamed up for a friendly competition; the objective: to design and construct a self-supported, earth structure consisting only of sand and window screen and capable of resisting the greatest load amongst the teams. Four teams were formed and provided approximately 15-minutes to achieve the objective.


Using just a few, unsophisticated tools for placement of the sand (a scoop), cutting of the window screen (scissors) and compacting of the soil (a brick), the teams of students quickly went to work building their MSE structures. The earth structures were constructed within a wooden form that would be removed after completion. To qualify for the competition, each team’s MSE structure had to remain “intact” upon removal of the forms. Each team successfully achieved this task. As such, the loading of each structure began. Using bricks, each MSE structure was loaded to failure/collapse. Three of the four eventually succumbed to the load of the bricks; however, one team’s mechanically stabilized earth structure resisted. Ultimately, one student (and all 200 pounds of him), with the support of his colleagues, stood on top of the earth structure. To everyone’s amazement, the winning team’s MSE, resisted the load with negligible deflection!


The purpose of this activity, as presented by Reece Taylor and Jeffery Joseph III of Braun Intertec, was to demonstrate how the use of artificial materials, such as geosynthetics (or in this case window screen), can be used to provide tensile strength to earth materials (e.g. hold the soil together), as well as significantly increase the ability of earth materials to resist loads. The presentation also included several examples of how MSE structures are often used to construct the infrastructure (roads, bridges, slopes, buildings, etc.) within our communities.