WESTERN STUDENTS TAKE HIGH ROAD
On a recent cold winter day, 19 students from Western Carolina University's Kimmel School of Construction Management, Engineering and Technology climbed High Top Mountain in northwestern Buncombe County along a steep, rocky, rutted road through treacherous terrain.
And that was the point. The construction layout and surveying students were there to study the rough road to the top of the mountain and to suggest surface and safety improvements to assist an Asheville radio station.
“It was fun to take what you're learning in class and apply it. We went up and surveyed the edges and down the center line,” said Richard Baldwin, a construction management major from Etowah.
“I thought that it was a great experience, said Justin Layell, a construction management major from Burnsville. “We can study in the classroom or go out on our campus and learn a lot, but we actually got out in the field for this road project. I would eventually like to see how that road turns out.”
The road leads to a remote radio transmitter that sends the signal from public radio station WCQS-FM in Asheville to listeners in Buncombe, Madison, Haywood and parts of Henderson counties. WCQS had the road built in 1992, and it has required constant maintenance ever since so station workers can get to the one-acre site for critical checkups and repairs.
“Before we put any more money into road maintenance, we needed people with engineering expertise to give us suggestions,” said Ed Subkis, WCQS general manager.
Western construction management professors Gary Burke and Ron Mau took their students up the mountain to put their expertise to work. They spent the day surveying more than a mile of road in the bitter cold, with a bright sun glinting off ice-covered trees. In spite of the discomfort, they said they were glad to help.
Burke said the students accumulated quite a bit of data with their road survey. They should have their recommendations for improvements completed within the next couple of months.
“We had never done anything like this before,” Mau said. “We were pleased to help this community organization.”
Subkis, the station's manager, is looking forward to that report. “We were very pleased that they were able to provide us with professional engineering help while giving real-world, problem-solving experience to the students,” he said.
For more information about the construction management program at Western Carolina University, call (828) 227-2159 or visit kimmelschool.wcu.edu.
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Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University