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Texas Section News: Media Coverage

Austin Branch Builds Rain Garden in Partnership With City of Austin and UT

Monday, February 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Annemarie Gasser
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ASCE Austin Branch members regularly mentor over 120 senior-level civil engineering students at The University of Texas at Austin. This year, the students’ design for a rain garden became a reality at a local elementary school.

All civil engineering seniors at The University of Texas at Austin are required to take an Engineering Professionalism course that prepares students for their careers by providing real-world experience. Students are charged with developing designs and plans for real clients and stakeholders. They also explore the non-technical aspects of civil engineering practice, including balancing the demands of engineering, science, policy, law, ethics, and business. Students are assigned to ASCE Austin Branch members who help with designs and provide guidance on stakeholder and client relations. A little over two years ago, the engineering class began designing a rain garden to address runoff issues at Bryker Woods Elementary School in Austin. The rain garden was designed to capture and treat runoff from an adjacent roof by increasing infiltration and decreasing runoff velocities. With guidance from ASCE Austin Branch mentors, the students’ design was approved by the Parent-Teacher Association and a date was set for construction.

The Community Outreach Committee of the EWRI Austin Chapter and ASCE Austin Branch members organized with the ASCE UT Student Chapter and elementary school teachers, parents, and students on the construction day in November 2014. Approximately 25 people helped to build the rain garden. It has remained verdant through the winter and has been capturing runoff from recent rains.

The Austin Branch is continuing to work with the elementary school and plans to construct a second phase of the project in the spring. Plans are also underway for construction at a second Austin-area campus. The City of Austin is supplying interpretive signs at the rain garden so visitors and students alike can learn about stormwater quality and engineering principles.

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