In this blog post Jacob Cipollini, a civil engineering student from the University of Utah, shares his experience participating in this year’s Timber-Strong Design Build Competition.
I’m Jacob Cipollini, a junior civil engineering student at the University of Utah. Our American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter recently won the Timber-Strong Design BuildSM Competition at the ASCE Intermountain Southwest Student Symposium. This event was sponsored in part by Simpson Strong-Tie.
I initially started out as an engineering student at the recommendation ofT some of my teachers in high school, and I haven’t looked back since then, as I’ve had an amazing experience in my time here at the University of Utah. The opportunities to visit construction sites, water treatment facilities, and even a nuclear reactor have made my experience all the better. Classes I’ve taken include hydraulics, environmental engineering, transportation, and structural analysis. The class I’m most excited about taking next fall is hydrology.
I got involved with ASCE and the Timber-Strong team in early February when they decided to start the project and needed more people. It wasn’t long before I became heavily involved as the Construction Team Lead. Other people on our team that I’d like to mention (and to thank for their hard work!) are the following:
Kara Steab, our team captain
Konrad Dellacqua, who helped me tremendously with the build
Sarah Neves, who made our Revit model
Shayne Curson, who made our final poster and kept track of the budget
Garrett Newhart, who led the charge with the structural calculations
Luke Cadona, who helped us build and paint
Joy Libarios, who helped a ton with painting
Since we had only about two months to complete the entire process of designing, budgeting, and building, it was a challenge to get everything done. It took about three weeks for everyone to come up with a design that would work, and the remainder of the time was spent building, making a 3D Revit model of the structure, and finding out the environmental impact of the materials that we used. The environmental impact of our building was relatively small, since we used wood as the only material.
The team dynamic of this was unique, since I’ve never participated in a physical build of this scale with a team of people. However, I did have leadership experience before this, which I gained through three years of being in Student Council at my high school. There was a lot of going back and forth between myself and Kara (our team captain), since she was the person who did the majority of the framing design. There were many minor changes that had to be made throughout the build, since we didn’t have the time to address every detail in the design before starting the build.
Despite the challenge and rushed schedule, I really enjoyed working on this, since I love doing things where I get to work with my hands. Last summer, I built a bed frame from scratch, which is the only woodworking project I’d done before Timber-Strong. Needless to say, there was a lot for me to learn, but I feel that being a handy person and having the right mindset helped me more than anything else could have.
All in all, this was an amazing experience for me, despite having never done anything like it before. I really hope that our ASCE student chapter decides to participate in the Timber-Strong Design BuildSM again next year, because I’d be more than happy to do another build. Before this project, I was interested in construction management as a possible career path, and after participating in this build, I’m even more interested. To any students who might be interested in engineering, I think that you should absolutely reach out to local student engineering groups and get to know more about who they are and what they do. They will be happy to meet you, and hopefully you’ll find something that suits you! In closing, I’d like to thank Simpson Strong-Tie for giving students the opportunity to do something outside the classroom. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
Learn more about the other Timber-Strong Design Build teams and how Simpson Strong-Tie employee, Angel Leon helped co-found this event.