A student team from Oregon State University has won the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s 2023 Engineering Design Competition, also known as the Big Beam Competition, in Chicago.

The national competition, in its 23rd year, teaches structural engineering skills in an applied learning environment.

Teams design, build and test a 20-foot, precast, prestressed concrete beam. Entries are judged on a variety of criteria, including the beam’s load-resisting performance in tests that simulate conditions that structural building and infrastructure components must endure; the teams’ analysis and reports; and a video overview of the project.

"PCI Big Beam competition helped students learn different perspectives compared to the knowledge gained from the classroom,” said Tanarat Potisuk, faculty advisor for the Oregon State team. “These included performing design calculations, building the beam and observing actual behavior of the beam through the test. The results were eye-opening for the students, showing that when design assumptions were well thought out and calculations were correctly executed, the actual behavior of the beam could be predicted closely.”

OSU team members were Sean Freitag, Nicholas Peterson and Kobe Wagner. They worked with Knife River Prestress in Harrisburg to get their beam built.

Finishing second was the University of Minnesota Duluth, followed by Iowa State University.

Also competing were the University of British Columbia, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lehigh University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Northern Arizona University.

To see the student videos, visit PCI’s Big Beam Channel on YouTube.

Founded in 1954, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute is a technical institute for the precast concrete structures and systems industry. PCI members include precast concrete producers, erectors, suppliers, professional engineers and architects, educators, students, and industry consultants.

For additional information, visit pci.org/howprecastbuilds.