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Civil engineering majors are helping the borough of Alpha, N.J., decide what to do with its aging John Dolak Memorial Pool. Three teams of five students are developing proposals for the pool as a senior design project led by Roger Ruggles, associate professor and head of civil and environmental engineering, and Art Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“It’s the capstone design project for their major,” says Ruggles. “It’s intended to integrate multiple sub-areas of civil engineering into one project. This particular one does that by incorporating water resources, environmental, construction, and probably structural engineering. It’s also beneficial in the sense that it’s a real project, which makes the students much more excited about it. They’re dealing first-hand with the people affected by it, which gives them a greater feeling of ownership of the problem.”

Built in 1979, the pool cannot be sold because of the stipulations of a $300,000 state grant that partially funded its construction. A flood plain and wetland areas limit the property’s use. Although the option to reopen the pool has not been ruled out, borough officials believe it probably would be too expensive to continue operating it.

Students will conduct an analysis of the site’s hydrological makeup and other characteristics, assess the recreation needs of the borough, and determine the potential uses of the property. “Then I would like them to come up with a proposal that could be forwarded to a state funding agency for potential construction of what the students recommend,” says Ruggles.

Last year’s senior design class presented the Forks Township Board of Supervisors with proposals for a new municipal building, which included a study of potential environmental and traffic impacts. “The town is constructing a building that very much resembles one of the structures recommended to them by the students, so I’d say they responded pretty well (to the presentations),” notes Ruggles.

Categorized in: Academic News