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Leonard DeRooy - URS Corporation


Structural Engineering at URS Corporation,
May 2005 August 2006

The West Michigan office of URS Corporation is an architectural and engineering consulting firm providing full services for the architectural/engineering construction field as well as services in transportation and airport design. URS Corporation has been very friendly towards the Calvin Engineering program and has hired several interns and many full-time engineers from our program.

Prior to coming to Calvin College, I was a structural engineer at URS Corporation. The field of structural design centers around various activities, and most of these activities are governed by codes: building codes, steel design, concrete design, masonry design, wood design, earthquake design, snow loads, and wind loads. Each of these codes generally has an update cycle of 3 to 5 years, and most of them have been revised at least once since I started to teach at Calvin. The main goal of my externship was to get familiar with the new codes and to possibly have the chance to work on a large project.

Initially, URS indicated that they did not know what type of projects they would put me on. However, within two weeks of my starting the externship, URS got awarded the project of doing the structural engineering for the new River House at Bridgewater Place . This is a 34-story concrete structure that will be built as the second tower of Bridgewater place in downtown Grand Rapids . I have been assigned to this project as the lead structural engineer for URS and have another engineer helping me with the design.

Although the project is still at its early stages and I still have several months of my externship to complete, I have already had the opportunity to learn several things and anticipate learning many others:

  • The project is a design-build project with the architectural design being done by a different firm. This is the first project that I have done in my career that is a design-build project.
  • I have had the opportunity to incorporate several new code items into the design. The main one that I am currently working on is using the strut-and-tie method for design of the concrete foundations. This method is new to the latest code, and this is the first project that URS-Grand Rapids is doing that uses this method extensively.
  • The majority of the building will be Post-Tension concrete design. I currently do not have much experience in designing with Post-Tension concrete.
  • The building will be the tallest building in West Michigan. There are a multitude of design issues that need to be resolved on a project of this magnitude.

I hope to be able to be active with the project through completion of construction, which is currently scheduled for the late fall of 2008. I anticipate that I will be consulting with URS part-time during the construction phase and hope to be able to give tours of the construction site to engineering students during the next two years. I also plan on using these experiences as examples in my structural design course.

I have told many people that it is truly God's work that I have had this opportunity to work on this project. The timing of the project, the size of the project, and exciting and challenging aspects of the project are truly making this the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I would like to thank the Spoelhof family for making this opportunity possible.