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Engineering Impact Report

Students Help Plan Fairgrounds' Future


It's a civil engineer's dream. Thirty-eight undeveloped acres in the heart of Dayton that could transform the city for years to come. 

The site, branded as onMain - Dayton's Imagination District, lies between the campuses of its two new owners, The University of Dayton and Premier Health. The site of the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds was acquired by the two anchor institutions in 2017 with the intent of creating a transformative mixed-use development over the next 10-15 years.

But first, the site is being used as a lab for University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College students. 

During the 2019 academic year, a group of 12 to 15 students from the University of Dayton Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Sinclair's engineering technology design program had the opportunity to present conceptual and structural designs of a residential and commercial building to onMain partners. 

"We don't know exactly how contributions will be used, but we are honored the University, Premier Health and planning NEXT are providing opportunities for students to be part of the project and participate in hands-on learning opportunities that will be considered for application in the real-world," said Don Chase, director of undergraduate studies with the University of Dayton civil engineering department and faculty adviser for the project. "It's exciting for these students to even have a chance to one day possibly look at onMain and tell their children and grandchildren, 'I helped design that when I was in college."

As part of the project, students created architectural and structural drawings plus plans for clearing space for the building, waste and storm water management, traffic, landscaping, lighting and parking. They also worked with faculty advisers on-site to ensure pinpoint accuracy of Geographic Information System data for architects, engineers and designers. 

Because the students are not licensed professional engineers, all designs and proposals were presented to the partners and planning NEXT, the planning firm hired to lead the process. Professional engineers and architects will review students' work for incorporation into the project.

"Design scenarios such as this produce high-quality learning experiences that no classroom lecture could ever produce," said Eric Dunn, chair of Sinclair's engineering technology design program. "This project gave students a taste of how to follow and maintain a client's architectural and overall site vision while also conforming to federal, state and local design standards."


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