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ISU civil and environmental engineering teams to compete in the national 2019 PCI Big Beam Competition, will hold final beam tests on May 17

May 8, 2019

ISU's Structural Lab and the ISU big beam entered in the 2018 PCI competition.
ISU's Structural Lab and the ISU big beam from the 2018 PCI Big Beam Competition.

POCATELLO – Two teams of Idaho State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering students are competing in the 2019 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big Beam Competition and will hold the final destructive testing of their concrete beams on May 17.

The testing will occur from 2 to 4 p.m. in the ISU Structural Laboratory (SLAB) at the Engineering Research Complex (ERC) on 1030 S. Second Ave. in Pocatello.

According to PCI, each student team must work with a PCI producer member to build a precast/prestressed concrete beam that is 20 feet long. The two student teams include Team Teton Prestress and Team Forterra.

Team Teton Prestress includes ISU civil and environmental engineering students Ali Shokrgozar who is pursuing a Ph.D., undergraduate Mahesh Acharya and master’s student Ruchin Khadka. Alexander Gunkler, an exchange scholar from the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, is also on the team. This team is sponsored by Teton Prestress Concrete in Idaho Falls.

Team Forterra includes ISU civil and environmental engineering undergraduate students Ryan Golding and Blake Kleffner, and David Lucyga, an exchange scholar from the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany. This team is sponsored by Forterra Structural Precast in Salt Lake City and Caldwell.

The faculty advisor for both teams is Mustafa Mashal, ISU assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The beams will be tested as simply supported and must carry at least 32,000 pounds, must not have a peak load of more than 40,000 pounds, and shall not crack under 20,000 pounds. Judging criteria include design accuracy, lowest cost and weight, largest measured deflection, most accurate prediction, report quality, practicality, innovation, and conformance with the code. Students will have to discuss the structural design and the concrete mixture proportions for the beams in their reports.

Prizes will be awarded for best performance in the stated areas. According to PCI, the winning team at the national level will receive free travel, accommodations, and registration for the 2020 PCI Convention and National Bridge Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Prizes will be awarded to the top 20 submissions. The value of the prize awarded is based on the entry’s placement in the competition. Prizes may be offered for the best report and best video.

“We are glad to participate in the 2019 PCI Big Beam Competition. Last year was our first time competing nationally and we did well,” Mashal said. “This year we have two teams from ISU. We have two students from the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany in our teams as well. The students have worked hard and are excited to see the testing results.”

PCI Big Beam Competition is very practical and challenging. It helps the students to understand what goes into design, construction and testing of a precast/prestressed concrete beam.

“Construction time, quality and cost are three important parameters to consider in structural design of civil infrastructure,” Mashal said. “The PCI Big Beam competition emphasizes on all three which is wonderful. We are thankful of our sponsors who have supported our civil engineering students for this competition. We look forward to the testing event and our future collaborations with the precast/prestressed concrete industry.”

To view a video of the last year’s PCI Big Beam Competition testing at the ISU Structural Laboratory (SLAB), visit

Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral high research activity university and teaching institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU has nine Colleges, a Graduate School and a Division of Health Sciences that together offer more than 250 certificate and degree programs. More than 12,000 students attend ISU. Idaho State University is the state's designated lead institution in health professions.


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