Team of biosystems engineering students win competition for coastal erosion control model

Published: Sep 24, 2014 4:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Morgan Stashick, stashml@auburn.edu , 334-844-3591

A team of undergraduate students from Auburn University’s Department of Biosystems Engineering took first place in the student design competition at the 14th annual meeting of the American Ecological Engineering Society (AEES) held June 9-11. Clemson University hosted this year’s meeting in Charleston, S.C.

The Auburn team competed against nine other teams from peer universities, which included Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Syracuse universities. The team consisted of three undergraduates from biosystems engineering, including senior Jesse Blanton; junior Olivia Elliott; and senior Ryan McGehee, who also partnered with students from State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University.

The competition focused on designing methods for coastal erosion control in a model hydraulic flume. The students were tasked with creating a model breakwater system that reduces wave energy on a shoreline using natural materials. Each design was evaluated for turbidity reduction in the flume. Auburn’s winning team used sand and a shredded wood mulch to create their model to absorb wave energy.

“The trick was taking into consideration that you do not want the roads to flood from your filtration system taking too long, so we needed to design something that worked quickly, but still reduced the turbidity level,” said Elliott.

AEES brings together academics, students, consultants, government officials and industry representatives to discuss a broad range of ecological engineering topics. The mission of the organization is to promote the development of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment to the benefit of both.

Contributed by Valerie Cashin