Aqueduct Design Project – OurWarwick

Aqueduct Design Project

So, week 3! Work’s been piling on a bit since the start of the term; in this post I’m going to talk a bit about the ES2A8 Group Design Project. There are a few projects available corresponding roughly to the different engineering streams – as a Civil Engineering student, I picked the Aqueduct project, in which we design and eventually build a 3m-long aqueduct. In term 1, we developed individual design proposals – now, I’m working in a group of 8 to put together a comprehensive report with diagrams, calculations, a risk assessment, etc. Luckily it’s not all on me – my part of the project is to see how the design reacts under the forces of gravity and the live load of the water using a finite element analysis (FEA). Another person in my group has already made the model, so it was up to me to perform the analysis itself.


The School of Engineering currently uses Solidworks for CAD purposes, and we had introductory sessions in first year. In second year, we then had further sessions for more detailed applications such as FEA. I signed up for this part of the project in order to get a bit of practice using the software, and after a bit of trial and error (when I first ran the analysis, the model looked like it was falling down as the software exaggerated the displacement of the bridge by 11,500 times!) I got some rather handy results. The image I posted (Figure 1) is colour-coded to show the displacement of each part of the bridge, and you can see it’s sagging slightly in the gaps between the pillars. With a maximum value of only 2.6e-3 mm though, the design looks to be well within tolerances. Always a plus!

I’ve really enjoyed having my own bit of the project to take off and complete, but now it’s time to weave all the little pieces back together. We’re using Google Docs for the master copy because it’s free, online, and allows us to see who’s working on each section. It’s looking mostly complete now, with a bit of editing needed to make sure everything looks good together. Hopefully, all the hard work will pay off, as this project counts for 15% of the module.

I hope you found this look into second year Engineering interesting – until next time! 🙂

Nathan L

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