Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Mines Seniors Take Environmental Clean Water Project from Design to Installation

Two Mines students, Christian Heinrich and Joshua Fleming, in front of part of a water flow regulation and measurement system called a weir that they designed and found funding to build and install. The system, which is part of Trinity Eco Prayer Park in Rapid City, helps protect water quality in Rapid Creek.

Three South Dakota Mines seniors didn’t want their final design project to be just an academic exercise to cap their engineering degrees. They wanted to see the project built, installed and making a difference in the community. Civil engineering majors Joshua Fleming, Christian Heinrich and Cody Allen dedicated themselves to doing whatever needed to be done to make that happen. Even if they had to raise the money and install it themselves.

The students accomplished their goal in late April when they placed their finished product at Trinity Eco Prayer Park in the park’s stormwater collection channel.

“Between making report deadlines, presentations, meetings, purchase orders, manufacturing, installation; and all of our work in other classes, we constantly felt like we were going to fall behind on the project,” said Fleming. “However, we are extremely excited to have hit the point to get it installed.”

The team lined up anonymous donors to help pay for project materials and made arrangements with All Metal Manufacturing to donate time to build the structure, which is called a weir, that was installed at the park.

It all started when the team met with Trinity Eco Prayer Park Director Ken Steinken in January to talk about the potential for a senior design project at the park, which is located in downtown Rapid City at 4th and St. Joseph Streets. This is not the first time the park has served as a living laboratory for Mines students. As part of the park’s mission to be a model for sustainability, the park has welcomed previous Mines students’ design and research projects. The park has also hosted tours for design professionals, scientists and municipal planners.

The team heard about the research and drainage renovations which are underway at the park and were interested in getting involved in some way. Project manager Jason Phillips of TerraSite Design explained the need to design a plate that would enable future researchers to measure the amount of stormwater that flows into the park, which also serves the dual purpose of a stormwater detention facility. He also mentioned that funding for the plate was not included in the current phase of construction.

Inspired by Phillips, who is also a doctoral environmental engineering student at Mines, the senior trio caught the vision for the project. They proceeded full speed ahead to map out the stages of their project to research, design and vet the project, which included extensive calculations to determine if the plate would be able to handle the force from a typical high-volume Black Hills cloudburst.

They also built a scale model to run simulations to confirm their findings. And they met with Steinken and Phillips to make sure they approved of the proposed design. After the meeting they proceeded to finalize their plan in preparation for the presentation of their project at the end of the semester. 

None of this is unusual since that's what all senior projects are supposed to do. “This team took it to the next level when they made contacts to raise money to pay for the necessary materials and arranged with All Metal Manufacturing to donate services to make the plate,” said Park Director Steinken. “Plus they offered to install it themselves, as long as someone could provide them with a hammer drill to do it.” 

The team estimated the installation would take about two hours. But due to some unforeseen issues it ended up taking closer to 10 hours. However, the team had no regrets about the additional effort and time required to see their idea turned into a reality that will be in the park and facilitate research for many years to come.

“I wish it would have gone according to plan a little bit better,” said team leader Fleming. “But I’m happy with the final product and getting it done all the way to the end."

“As frustrating as it is, I think the experience you get from actually doing the project is pretty important,” added Heinrich.

The students will present their project Wed., May 5 at 1:50 p.m. in the Civil/Mechanical Engineering Building on the Mines campus in room 310. The presentation can also be viewed online at here.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2023
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
King Center
Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2023
7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Campus Wide
Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023
7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Stadium Parking Lot and Rocker Trails
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023
7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Crazy Horse