Civil engineering student team earns international honors

Published: Sep 7, 2010 12:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Sally Credille,, 334-844-3447

disappearing roads team

From left, team members David Little, Richard Jannett, Joshua Brown and Sam Wheeler

Students in Auburn University's Department of Civil Engineering were awarded $7,000 for placing second in the International Disappearing Roads Competition, held recently at Texas A&M University. The competition offers student engineers the chance to develop innovative concepts for reducing the footprint of transporting equipment and materials to drill sites in environmentally sensitive areas. This is the first Auburn team to participate and place in the competition.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of our students,” said Dave Elton, the team’s adviser and civil engineering faculty member. “They worked hard, almost entirely on their own, and integrated information from their class work. They did great research to create a prize-winning design and benefited from association with their competitors, as well as valuable professional interaction with sponsors and judges.”

Auburn team members included recent graduates Richard Jannett, Sam Wheeler, David Little and Josh Brown. This year’s competition was designed for a coastal margin or desert ecosystem, where teams presented their design, submitted a formal paper and were closely examined by industry experts. Each team member participated in the activities, which lasted two days. Auburn’s team, along with Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University, qualified as a competition finalist. Auburn’s team went head-to-head with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology of Terre Haute, Ind., using a geosynthetic cellular confinement system to improve the bearing capacity of the native soils of the desert ecosystem.

“We believe that this competition is important because of the large impact that oil drilling has on the environment,” says Jannett, the team’s captain. “With the recent developments from the oil spill in the Gulf, there will be heavy scrutiny on the oil industry to decrease the environmental impact, making this competition especially important.”

The competition is sponsored by the Global Petroleum Research Institute, Texas A&M University and Halliburton.

Contributed by Katie Mullinax