If you’ve seen some students invading the streets of Watertown, N.Y., this summer, don’t be alarmed. They are supposed to be there. The students represent a new part of the Construction Engineering Management (CEM) program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University: the Clarkson CEM Consulting Group (C3G).
Earlier this year, officials in the City of Watertown determined they needed to do a detailed inventory of each and every sidewalk ramp as a part of their Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition planning. This planning will help the city to meet federal guidelines for accessibility for all of the city residents over the coming years.
“The first step is to find out which of the ramps actually meet the standards and which ones do not. This requires a hands-on inventory of the ramp slopes, conditions, and measurements,” says Matthew Roy, human resource manager for the City of Watertown. “Accomplishing that inventory would require a set of personnel trained in geographic information systems (GIS) and willing to scour the streets of the entire city.”
In March, Clarkson CEM Director Erik Backus reached out to the city offering the services of this new program. “C3G is an experiential learning opportunity for our students through work within the communities of the North Country and local municipalities near the students’ hometowns,” says Backus. “Many times communities have infrastructure or planning projects that need to get done, but are having a hard time getting them started because they lack the personnel to get them done or lack the funding to use traditional consultants.”
“C3G fills that void with students who are learning civil engineering, construction management and related skills through their education, and want to put it into practice. On top of that, it enables municipalities and similar community groups to finally get projects into a position to be able to get them done for the benefit of all.”
It was a natural match for Watertown and their ADA transition efforts. Through an agreement with Clarkson, the city was able to contract with C3G to execute the inventory, using students who had particular skills in GIS with Civil and Environmental Engineering Instructor Bill Olsen providing quality control and oversight for the students through the summer.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” says Leudin Dominguez ’18, a civil engineering major from Bronx, N.Y., one of the students working on the project in Watertown. “This internship was perfect. It allowed me to use what I learned in GIS class last year on a project needed by the City of Watertown.”
In addition to Leudin, four other students (Jacob Hunt '18, environmental engineering, Fairport, N.Y.; Adel Kajtazovic '18, civil engineering, Cape Coral, Fla.; Aime Kikoma '18, civil engineering, Staten Island, N.Y.; and Keith Huynh '17, civil engineering, Liverpool, N.Y.) are working throughout the city using laser levels, tablets, and other measurement devices to capture the information. As each ramp is inventoried it is automatically entered into the cities GIS database where it can be tracked and managed. With the large number of days of rain this summer, the progress hasn’t been as good as anticipated but already more than 1,000 ramps have been inventoried by the students.
“Overall we’re happy with the results and don’t see anything which requires changing. The students are doing a great job," says Roy. “Work will continue until all of the ramps are inventoried throughout the city, which is anticipated to occur sometime in mid-August. I hope mother-nature cooperates.”