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Open Space Institute
“It’s a great feeling to have disparate organizations get together for the public good,” says Dr. Ledlie Klosky, a professor of Civil Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point, describing the partnership between West Point, Open Space Institute, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
The three organizations have been coming together to replace bridges and improve public parks in the Hudson Valley for the last four years. Most recently they replaced four bridges on the newly opened 9.5-mile Hubbard Perkins Loop Trail at Fahnestock State Park in Putnam and Dutchess counties. The bridges are designed to make new parts of the park more accessible to hikers and redistribute visitors to avoid overcrowding.
Fahnestock State Park is 14,086 acres, including four ponds and two lakes. Visitors of the park can walk or bike the many hiking trails running through the park, enjoy the beach on Canopus Lake, fish on Pelton pond, rent boats at the boat launch, or stay the night at one of the 80 camp sites with picnic tables and charcoal grills or RV trailer sites. The park is also open to turkey and deer hunting during their respective seasons.
West Point has taken on these recent park projects as part of a yearlong capstone senior project for engineering students to get hands-on career experience. The cadets start by making a site visit to the park and then are split into two competition groups of two or three students to design a bridge. This opportunity gives cadets real-world experience by giving them the opportunity to see a project through from start to finish. Cadets are tasked with many different parts of civil engineering that they’ll be faced with in their careers, including accessing the site, communicating with stakeholders, going to design meetings, and reworking their drawings. It gives cadets a sense of confidence before going out into their careers.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the students because they get the field experience of building a real project,” Dr. Klosky says. For many cadets …….