Starting with a pile of rebar and some bags of concrete, the Big Beam Team is engaged in a real-world competition designed to test their knowledge before they enter the workforce by participating in the Engineering Student Design Competition, sponsored by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). The contest is designed to help Civil Engineering students gain the knowledge to design and build concrete girders for bridges.
The students must design and build a 15-foot long concrete beam capable of supporting a minimum load over its span. After the beam is built and cured, the team completes a load test and writes a final report for submission. Their beam design is judged based on accuracy, cost of construction, overall weight, largest measured deflection before failure, most accurate prediction of applied load, cracking load and deflection at maximum load. They are also judged on the quality of their report and the practicality, innovation and conformance to code.