‘ACE’ students wow county commissioners with professional bridge model

See outer East Portland academy students ‘ace’ their Sellwood Bridge model – and presentation – to Multnomah County Board of Commissioners …

This realistic model accurately demonstrates how the Sellwood Bridge deck will be slid sideways to the north, onto new temporary piers in the Willamette River to form a temporary “shoo-fly” detour bridge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
About the same time a giant steel A-frame was installed in the Willamette River as the Sellwood Bridge project gets underway, seniors from a very special mid-County school showed off their project that demonstrates how part of the construction job will take place.

To help visualize how the “shoo-fly detour bridge” will be moved into position, a team of four students at East Portland’s ACE Academy have created working scale model, which they unveiled for the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on April 26.

ACE Academy seniors gather for a team photo before presenting their working Sellwood Bridge “detour bridge” model to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. The students are, from left, Logan Evans, Ryan Kennell, Josh Coon, and Valerie Cecchini.

ACE Academy senior Logan Evans said that a project representative had visited the charter school, asking if there was interest in creating such a project. The school provides project-based curricula for students interested in careers in architecture, construction, and engineering.

“Our instructor, Marjan Rotting, asked if we wanted to do it,” Evans said. “We all thought it would be an interesting challenge.”

What the students presented to the commissioners went beyond a “popsicle sticks and toothpicks” model. “When people heard what we were working on it, that type of model construction became a common misconception,” Evans commented wryly.

Students from ACE Academy roll their model of the Sellwood Bridge out for their presentation.

“We received ‘working drawings’ from the Sellwood Bridge project engineers, and met with them a few times to discuss the details. It was our job to simulate moving the bridge deck with hydraulic ‘pancake jacks’. We eventually came down to a simple mechanical design that showed the movement.”

Michael Eaton, Multnomah County Design Manager – the project manager during the planning stage – said the model is an exact replica, scaled 1 inch for each 20 feet.

ACE Academy students Valerie Cecchini, Josh Coon, Logan Evans, and Ryan Kennell tell how they overcame challenges when designing and constructing their working model of the Sellwood Bridge transition.

“These students have done a fabulous job of exploring many of the issues which we’re facing on this project,” Eaton said. “In building these models, they encountered the exact same problems that we, as designers, are up against – including time constraints, budgeting, and quality control. The discussion pointed out several potential issues we face during the transition [sliding the bridge northward onto the temporary piers].”

During the presentation, ACE Academy senior Ryan Kennell explained that because some of the components were so small, the students had to adjust the size to make it actually work in the model.

ACE Academy students Josh Coon, Ryan Kennell, and Logan Evans demonstrate the “transition” Sellwood Bridge deck movement.

After viewing the demonstration of the model, Commissioner Judy Shiprack commented, “I’ve never seen anything quite this impressive. This is an exceptional level of quality. It is truly stunning.”

Commission Chair Jeff Cogen also commended the group, turning to the audience and adding, “Anyone who doubts that our future is in good hands should meet these students. When people see this project, they’ll have to feel encouraged.”

As the students were being congratulated, ACE Academy instructor Marjan Rotting commented, “I feel like a proud mom.  They’ve worked so hard, and are some of the most amazing students I’ve ever worked with. They are self-directed and intelligent.  I have let them make mistakes – and they have overcome them.”

The students receive congratulations from the Chair and members of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.

For information on the ACE Academy, see their website: CLICK HERE. For information about the Sellwood Bridge project, CLICK HERE to visit their informative website.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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