Federal grant to fund structural engineering course for Routt County students

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— A $65,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration will allow 30 Routt County students to embark on an ambitious project this fall in Hayden.

Hayden Career and Technology Director Kevin Kleckler said Tuesday the federal grant will allow 10 high school students from each of the county's three school districts to design and build a full-scale pedestrian bridge during a structural engineering class at the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center.

“Our main focus is going to be on the whole construction process and mathematics, challenging mathematics,” Kleckler said. “The kids all loved our (first structural engineering course) last year. But they told us they wanted more difficult math problems to solve.”

Last school year, 41 students from the Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts participated in Hayden's inaugural structural engineering course that had students design and construct a large steel tower.

The students also learned about Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, geotechnical engineering, mechanical and computer-aided drafting and crane lifting.

The class was funded by a $26,000 innovation grant from the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board.

Kleckler said Tuesday he was elated to learn Karla Setter, a grant writer who works with Routt County school districts, was able to help him secure the federal grant and continue the program another year.

Kleckler said the increased funding will allow him to expand the course curriculum and continue to provide free transportation to the students who will attend the class once or twice a month.

“I was just so excited,” Kleckler said. "I continue to try to do stuff for the kids and offer them hands-on activities that hopefully last them a lifetime.”

In addition to designing and building a complex structure, students will hear from several local established engineers and construction industry leaders in a classroom setting.

Kleckler said guest speakers for the course so far include new Routt County Road and Bridge Director Janet Hruby, Fox Construction's Tom and Sarah Fox, former Routt County senior road engineer Heather McLaughlin, a representative from Northwest Colorado Consultant,s and Luke Studer of Studer Engineering.

The course is scheduled to run from October to May.

According to the grant proposal from the Highway Administration, the grant comes from their Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program that aims to “improve the preparation of students, particularly women and minorities, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through curriculum development and other activities related to transportation.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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