AGA Partners with Texas A&M University Students to Donate Ramp to Family for Ascension Program
BRYAN, TEXAS – The American Galvanizers Association (AGA) is pleased to announce the completion of the first ramp under the Ascension Program – a joint effort between AGA and the American Institute of Architects Students (AIAS). The Ascension program was launched in 2013 as a design competition that challenged AIAS chapters to design a hot-dip galvanized steel ramp that could be modified to fit various locations. Upon completion of the design competition, the AGA aimed to build the ramps with students to benefit wounded veterans in their local areas.
In April, the first ramp was completed by the Texas A&M University AIAS Freedom by Design (FBD) chapter. Although the recipient was not a veteran, as initially targeted by the program, he was a former construction foreman – which turned out to be quite helpful for the students throughout the process.
Opting to forego the designs developed in the initial Ascension competition, the FBD students decided to design a more minimal, simple design for the client utilizing concrete purchased at a home improvement store, and galvanized steel railings which were donated by AGA member AZZ Galvanizing Services. The students worked throughout the Fall semester to develop the design, locate the client with the help of the City of Bryan, and finalize the dimensions for the project. Then, in the spring, they reached out to find help with the materials and equipment necessary to build the ramp.
Jenny Zhou, Texas A&M AIAS Chapter Vice President, noted initially the project was overwhelming, and the client was a bit hesitant about working with students. However, as the project moved forward, the students slowly gained the client’s trust. Zhou had attended an AIAS FORUM and heard AGA Marketing Director Melissa Lindsley talk about the Ascension Program and the possibility of galvanizers donating steel for ramps. Zhou initially contacted the AGA, who suggested she contact AZZ Galvanizing Services to partner on the project. Zhou said, “Initially, I was intimidated to ask a galvanizing company to donate materials for the project, but AZZ was so accommodating and enthusiastic that the following procedure was more simple than I had expected. The project would not have been possible without their cooperation.”
This is just the first of hopefully many ramps that will be donated and installed as part of the AGA’s Ascension Program. Not only does it benefit the recipient in the local community, but it also provides the students a unique hands on learning experience. Most of the students in the A&M Chapter had no prior experience with construction, and working on the project opened their eyes to the importance of fabrication allowances and above all communication throughout the design process. Having a former construction foreman and his family (with years of construction experience) on hand was certainly an unexpected bonus for this particular project.
Zhou said “Everyone joined Freedom by Design to help the community. Meeting the client and seeing their struggle motivated us to remedy their situation. This project was fulfilling, because students are being proactive. At the end, you saw how the small changes students made has greatly enriched someone’s life.”
For more information about the Ascension Program, please visit galvanizeit.org/ascension. The AGA also offers a number of other programs for architect and engineering students including scholarships, campus visits, competitions, and facility tours. Information can be found at galvanizeit.org/campus.