Four years after his graduation from the Virginia Military Institute, Shockey Precast Engineer Chris Gray finally got the opportunity to participate in PCI’s Annual Student Engineering “Big Beam” competition – as a sponsor of VMI’s 2019 student team. Chris began his career with Shockey Precast in 2015, just one month after his graduation from VMI. As a recent graduate, he was a natural choice for involvement in Shockey Engineering’s education and recruiting program. Chris began outreach efforts with his alma mater to cultivate a relationship between Shockey and VMI. Chris’ efforts finally paid off in early 2019, when VMI contacted him about Shockey Precast sponsoring the school’s student team in PCI’s 2019 Big Beam Competition.
The Big Beam Competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Civil Engineering or Technology, Construction Engineering or Technology, Construction Management, Architecture, Architectural Engineering or Technology, and Building Sciences or Technology. Student teams are typically comprised of three to four members, but teams of any size may participate. Each student team must be sponsored by a PCI Producer Member. The Producer Member provides advice and expertise to the team, as well as providing all materials, beam fabrication, beam transportation to the testing facility, and disposal. Student teams are responsible for the actual design and testing of the beam. 2019 is the first year VMI has participated in the Big Beam Competition.
On a snowy day in early March, the VMI team traveled to Shockey Precast’s plant in Winchester for a kick-off meeting with Chris and a plant tour. The students returned to Winchester a month later for the casting of their beam. Chris Gray and members of Shockey Precast’s Quality Control and Production teams were on-hand to provide guidance to the cadets, who served as the production bed crew for fabrication of their beam. One week later, Shockey Precast delivered the big beam to VMI’s Structures Lab and Chris Gray returned to his alma mater to observe the cadets’ testing of the big beam. The PCI competition is one of accuracy and 32 kips was the target failure load. The beam failed between 32 and 33 kips. VMI’s student team will submit their project to PCI and the results will be announced this summer.
“The education these students received from this project is immeasurable,” said Chris Gray. “Shockey Precast congratulates them for their hard work and for a job well done!”