Civil Engineering Technology students take once in a lifetime field trip

Civil Engineering Technology

First year students in the Civil Engineering Technology (CET) program got an up close look at one of the biggest Minnesota construction projects to-date, the St. Croix Crossing.

Instructor Alan Hancock and his class toured the construction site of the bridge, which will connect Oak Park Heights, MN and St. Joseph, WI. The $750 million project will replace the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge when it opens to traffic in fall 2017. The old Stillwater Bridge will be converted to a footbridge.

“It was the mother of all field trips,” said Hancock.

As part of the field trip, Hancock said students had the opportunity to walk on the bridge and see crews placing from a barge below some of the pre-cast segments that make up the bridge. While each varies in size, the typical size of a segment is 48 ft. wide x 18 ft. tall x 10 feet long.

“It’s almost like they were placing 180-ton Legos,” said Hancock.

Hancock said the bridge project gave students a real-world look at the possibilities of a CET career. The nearly 1 mile long bridge will consist of a series of piers, pre-cast segments and stay cables. Crews finished installing the stay cables this week and will continue placing segments through next week.

In the CET program students learn and gain hands-on experience in all aspects of the construction process including: planning and development, project management, and inspection of roads, bridges, highways, subdivisions and conventional energy including wind farms.

In the classroom, Hancock said it can be difficult to conceptualize the different types of projects and jobs available with a CET degree. By visiting a job site, such as the St. Croix Crossing, Hancock said students can get a clearer picture of where their education can take them in employment.

“About this time of year I find it good to get out of the classroom and show them the light at the end of the tunnel. I want them to know that they could potentially work on a project like this,” said Hancock.

In fact, three graduates of the CET program have or are working on the bridge project. Artie Wiscovitch worked as a Technical Services Coordinator for Aggregate Industries in the Gray Cloud Island Casting Yard. He verified and analyzed mix data and worked with quality control personnel and the batch plant.

Wiscovitch, a 2014 DCTC graduate, worked on the project for a little more than a year. On such a big project, he said there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people to stay in touch with.

“Everyone has their own job to do and their own deadlines to meet…relying on the people on site and having a good working relationship with everyone was key,” said Wiscovitch.

Coming out of DCTC, Wiscovitch said he wasn’t sure what to expect but as he’s moved into his professional career he has felt prepared.

“I feel that every instructor’s goal was to try and prepare you for what can actually happen and what you will actually be doing. (DCTC) provided a real world experience to several different aspects of potential jobs,” said Wiscovitch.

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