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Engineering seniors design for sustainability

Senior civil engineering students have created plans to enhance the beauty and energy efficiency of LU’s campus by incorporating sustainable elements to existing structures. The research, analysis and design are part of the Civil Engineering Systems Design course’s Senior Design Project. The project is titled “Sustainability Plan for Lamar.”

Each year, senior civil engineering students are tasked with a capstone project that tests their ability to apply the methods and practices developed in their courses. The group’s project selection was inspired by environmental awareness emphasized in LU courses and the help of Alicen Flosi, director of sustainability. The team has named itself Top-Notch Designs.

The project focused on an area adjacent to the Engineering Research Building, and includes solar energy, wind energy, rainwater harvesting, a rain garden, an outdoor seating area, a wind-powered fountain and covered parking.

Molly Duge from Brenham, led the design of the rain garden, which she says is an aesthetically pleasing way to capture excess rainwater and help divert it around buildings. Anthony Dundee from Galveston created the rainwater collection system involving a series of tanks connected by piping that help to collect and redistribute water and prevent overflowing.

The solar panel concept was a joint effort between Justin Vasek of Santa Fe, Texas and Jessica Sezikeye of Bujumbura, Burundi. Sezikeye studied the energy needs of the Engineering Research Building and devised a feasible new solar panel system while Vasek arranged the structural system to support the solar panels.

LaDonna Waters of Beaumont researched and engineered all the underground substructures needed to support the projects.

Waters believes the group’s work and hands-on learning will have a lasting impact for sustainability.

“We need to preserve what we have today so future generations can continue to have resources they need. We achieve sustainability not only by doing, but by educating,” she said.

Project members agree that the experience has helped them grow in communicating, learning in a real-life environment and working as a team.

Vasek says that though the project is tailored only to the local community, the sustainability of even the smallest region has an impact for the entire globe.