MCCC Engineering Students Put Classroom Knowledge to Work In Their Own Backyard


West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College (MCCC) staff who park in the lot near the Engineering Science Building may recall the days when they had to dodge large puddles on the walkways during and after rain storms. They may have noticed that, as of late, the walkways are dry, even in heavy storms. 

They can thank MCCC Engineering students for this major improvement. Student members of Mercer’s chapter of the American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) addressed the challenge this fall and, working with their advisor, Professor James Maccariella, and the Facilities staff, enacted a plan to mitigate the flooding.

Maccariella, Professor and Coordinator of Engineering Science and Civil Engineering Technology, is an active ASHE member and former member of the board of directors. He embraces the organization’s mission to keep engineers abreast of developments in the field and provide networking opportunities for engineers and engineering students. He is gratified that MCCC was the first community college in the country to establish a student chapter.

According to Maccariella, the primary mission for licensed professional engineers is "to hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public." When his students expressed interest in solving an engineering problem as part of their commitment to serve the community, he saw an opportunity right in their own backyard. "I suggested they address the drainage issue outside of the Engineering Science building,” Maccariella said.

Javuan Linton, president of MCCC’s ASHE chapter, explains that students first set out to define the problem as a potential safety concern. Then they reviewed existing design plans of the area. The next step was doing a topographic survey and determining the drainage area. With this knowledge in hand, they were able to design a solution – a new catch basin and piping system – and prepare a materials cost estimate. 

Linton said they worked as a team when they had time between classes and completed their plans in less than one month. Then it was the Facilities Department’s turn to execute the plans.

At the conclusion of the project, students presented a PowerPoint before a group of professional engineers at the ASHE monthly meeting, which took place at the MCCC Conference Center on Nov. 14.

“It feels great to have contributed to campus improvements in this way. It’s very satisfying,” Linton said, adding that the project and the presentation were real world applications of what students are learning in the classroom. “It is the type of work that we are likely to do in a job setting.”

“Student in our ASHE chapter did a great job,” Maccariella observed. “Their enthusiasm was inspiring. We are lucky to have such dedicated and talented students here at Mercer.”

Linton says that the chapter is eager to take on another project, but they also have other things on their “to do” list – like applying to four-year schools, obtaining internships, and completing the rigorous engineering curriculum. 

“If the right project comes along, we might take on one more this year,” Maccariella said.

In addition to Linton, other students who worked on the project include Michael Poulter, Luis Diaz, Siul Diaz, Angrud Chedha, Dhurvish Gajjar, Victoria Blankenbiller (math major), Alvin Paul, Nafia Israfil, and Benjamin Ochs.

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Some of the project team members at Club Day, from left, Michael Poulter, Javuan Linton, Siul Diaz, Victoria Blankenbiller, Alvin Paul, Nafia Israfil, and Benjamin Ochs.  

Students obtaining ground elevation readings.

On left, pre-remediation; on right, the area for the catch basins to assist with drainage.