Texas A&M University-Kingsville

In the Eye of the Storm--A&M-Kingsville Student Gains Valuable Experience Working on Hurricane Preparedness

KINGSVILLE - July 02, 2010

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361.593.4979

As much of South Texas spent this week closely monitoring Hurricane Alex churning in the western Gulf of Mexico, one of Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s engineering students was ready to help mobilize the area’s hurricane response.

Architectural engineering major Stephanie Andersen has spent three summers interning with the Texas Department of Transportation in the Sinton area office and part of her role there has included helping to prepare the department’s hurricane preparedness plan. So, while South Texans from Corpus Christi to Brownsville stocked up on water, batteries and canned food, readying to brace for a possible direct hit from Alex, Anderson went to work.

Andersen is involved in the refining stages of the area’s evacuation traffic control plan—that means she is among those responsible for overseeing the supplies necessary to make a possible evacuation run smoothly. She keeps a tally of the supplies—including TXDOT safety supplies, traffic signs, cones, drums and barricades—necessary to implement a hurricane preparedness plan. She must also be responsible for their location and keep a running count of where the supplies would be used in the event of an evacuation. She also has played a large role in the remarking of three lanes on IH 37 that would be shifted in an evacuation scenario.

While her field of study is architectural engineering, Andersen believes working with TXDOT has provided her with valuable real-world experience.

“I’ve learned that it definitely takes a lot of people to plan and prepare for a project of this caliber,” Andersen said. “We’ve changed a lot of minor details that make for big changes in the plan and the whole evacuation process. We’re also using some new materials, so it’s been a learning process for the whole crew.”

Jim Glusing, a lecturer in the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering, said Anderson’s field experiences will help her lead and coordinate multi-disciplinary approaches to complex problems.

“Architectural engineers, like many design professionals, often forget it is much easier to draw a finished product in the comfort of an air-conditioned office than it is to construct the object under field conditions,” Glusing said.

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