Crissy MacDonald Creates Computer Tool for Project Management Construction

Go Leopards!

Aug. 12, 2004

EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Rising Lafayette senior Crissy MacDonald, a member of the Lafayette swimming and diving program, is working to better understand the types of problems that arise on construction projects and how they can be solved. She is creating a computer program that performs like a training manual on project and construction management. MacDonald, who is working with David Veshosky, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and head of A.B. engineering, is using Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel project, also known as The Big Dig, as a case study. A three-year letterwinner in the pool for Lafayette, MacDonald holds the 11-dive record off the three-meter board, posting a score of 365.55 in 2002. "Crissy is assisting with analyzing communications about problems that arose during construction in the Fort Point Channel area of the project," Veshosky says. "Since Crissy's a civil engineering major, construction is one of the subjects within the discipline." MacDonald and Veshosky are collaborating through Lafayette's distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations. "The project is interesting because it is almost as if I am the project manager. There are many different scenarios that we examine and my job is to find the way to fix the problem in the least amount of time and as cheaply as possible," says MacDonald, who notes that Lafayette's academic environment caters to students who want to work on research projects. "I am going to be a senior and have participated in many different research opportunities here­from the environmental team that helped remove arsenic from the water supply in New Mexico to designing bridges for a contest," she says. "Along with doing biomedical research with hip implants and even geotechnical retaining walls, the school has allowed me to fully explore all the different sub-fields of civil and biomechanical engineering. This is important because it allows you to find out as much as possible about what you would like to specialize in, either in the workplace or graduate school." Veshosky, who will be MacDonald's honors thesis adviser next year, believes that she has many abilities that help her succeed. "She's intelligent, organized and self-motivated," he says. "Particularly important in research is her ability to work independently." In turn, MacDonald, who has already taken two classes with Veshosky, says that he is an enormous asset to Lafayette and students like her. "Professor Veshosky is very knowledgeable on the subject, so any question that I come across he is willing to answer or help find the answer to. He also knows a lot of people throughout the field of project management, which is very helpful because if I ever come across a real-world question, he makes it easy to find someone out there who can answer it for me." Ultimately, the computer program will likely be published, which MacDonald believes will aid her after graduation. "This provides a lot of experience similar to what one would have as a project management intern and therefore it looks very good when it comes time to look for jobs," she says. "Similarly, the publishing aspect will help when applying to graduate school." MacDonald, a Student Government associate representative, is a member of the Panhellenic Council and the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at the last annual conference in April.

 

 

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