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ETSU Geosciences students tour Boone Dam Project

Contributed • Mar 3, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Students in Dr. Arpita Nandi’s Engineering Geology class at East Tennessee State University recently enjoyed some unseasonably warm February weather while learning about the ongoing Boone Dam Project during a class tour.

This is the second class tour of Boone Dam coordinated by Nandi, associate professor and chair of the ETSU Department of Geosciences, who has also taken students to Center Hill Dam in Nashville, as well as to sites of landslides and other geo-hazard sites in the region.

“Geosciences is a career-centric discipline. Through the Boone Dam site visit, students could see the real-world application of what they have learned in the classroom setting,” Nandi says, adding that two ETSU alumni have worked with the Boone Dam Project with consulting agencies and another worked with the Center Hill Dam.

“In this class, I teach dam structures, their benefits and drawbacks, construction and foundation materials, designs, failure types and case studies,” she said. “Boone Dam is an excellent example right in our backyard.”

During their visit to Boone Dam, the ETSU seniors and graduate students in Nandi’s class learned more about the dam, which was constructed in the 1950s. They also heard more about the history of the current construction project to remediate structural problems that were identified following the discovery of a sinkhole near the base of the dam’s embankment.

Boone Dam Safety Engineer Veronica Barredo and Site Geologist Nate Bolles discussed dam safety, the project’s geologic model and more before leading the students on a walking tour of the dam to view the construction site.

“I’ve always been on Boone Lake, and have wanted to see the behind-the-scenes operations,” said geosciences major Nick McConnell. “It’s nice, as someone who’s used the recreational part of this lake, to actually see what’s going on.”

“It’s nice to hear stuff in class and then actually see how they did it here at the dam,” said Isaac Balaicuis, also a geosciences major. “It gives a better visual picture of what they do.”

“This is new information for us, really,” added senior Andrew Osborne. “Between the presentation and actually getting out on the dam itself and being able to observe all this happening, I learned a lot today. You get to see things from a closer perspective. A lot of the people in our class want to work in the geotechnical field, which this is very focused in. This is geotechnical engineering – how we build dams, how we mitigate rock slides and that sort of thing – and this is the ‘bread and butter’ of what we’re doing today.”

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