USMA Student Chapter and Walter Hoving Home for Women


How do you combine community needs with USMA Cadets, engineers and the desire to volunteer?

The Story:

The Walter Hoving Home for Women is located in Garrison, Putnam County NY, a stones throw from the Hudson River. The home, in the words of the founders "has helped thousands of women reclaim their lives from drug and alcohol abuse." As with any shelter of this kind, it needed some tender loving care. A storage shed, located at the bottom of a hill needed some site work and a concrete pad to cover a marshy land strip.

The US Military Academy, Civil & Mechanical Engineering conducts a Soil Mechanics Class CE 371 every spring. As part of the lesson plan, they learn about soil bearing capacities, sub grade moduli, Rankine values etc. The Cadets through their ASCE Student Chapter had identified the Hoving Home as their next community service project. The shed was one among many upgrades and renovations needed at the Home. A concrete pad was slated for the strip of land behind the shed, but the cadets needed the soil tested to get a bearing strength in order determine how thick to make the pad. The lesson plan called for a load plate bearing test. This required a specially equipped truck with the rigging needed to test the soil. Furthermore, the cost to mobilize, test and interpret the readings would have been beyond the means of a student volunteer project.

At the time Tammy Nosek, then project manager at Tectonic Engineering and president of the MH Branch, was contacted by Major Morgan Reese and Col. Cullen Jones, faculty advisors to the USME Student Chapter seeking help from the industry regarding their problem. Shahin Ariaey-Nejad, CDM Smith stepped up to the challenge. A few phone calls later with Don Benvy of Tectonic Engineering (VP Construction Services), it was suggested that due to the expense and logistics to renting and mobilizing a testing rig, that the California Bearing Ration (CBR) procedure would produce the soil parameters needed for designing the pad without the prohibitive costs. Soil samples could be collected and sent to the lab.

On May 5, 2012 samples were collected by Cadets Ryba, Malkoff, Kilroy and Bryce from three test pits in 5 gallon buckets in the strip of land behind the shed. The samples were sent to Tectonic geotechnical testing lab located at their facility in Newburgh, NY. Test results were returned to the USMA in June 2012, well before the fall semester as a follow up course in the fall. The concrete pad was constructed in the Spring of 2013.

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