RGDC Helps OU Students Learn Real Life Design Problems

Article excerpt

RGDC Inc. is loaning the University of Oklahoma expertise of its partners as the Oklahoma City architectural-engineering-planning firm helps a new generation of architectural, engineering and environmental science students prepare for the challenges of the business world after graduation.

Don Douglas, president and chief executive officer of RGDC, earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from OU in 1959. Today, he serves on OU's School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science Visiting Council.

Richard D. Gravlin, vice president of RGDC and a 1958 graduate of OU, also assists OU's School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES) on special projects.

Bob Cornell, secretary-treasurer of RGDC and a 1963 graduate of OU's College of Architecture, serves on the OU College of Architecture Board of Visitors.

All three men say they donate time because they want to see OU graduates better prepared for the wide breadth of challenges that fact today's architects, engineers and environmental scientists.

Civil engineering was a natural choice for Douglas after growing up under the tutelage of his father, Garner Douglas, a man with a background in mechanical engineering and the owner of Metalcraft Engineering.

"I grew up punching presses and sweeping and cleaning our shop," Douglas said, "but I always liked to draw and to build things and I ended up in civil engineering. I believe that civil engineers are a unique breed and the greatest attribute that they can possess is plenty of common sense. They also need to be creative and they have to enjoy a variety of work because they never know exactly what they are going to be doing from one day to the next."

Douglas has served as the city engineer for the City of Yukon, as principal-in-charge for engineering for the City of Nichols Hills, for RGDC's functions as engineer for the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust and for planning and engineering projects related to the North Canadian River redevelopment projects. He has also worked closely with the Norman Municipal Authority and Yukon Municipal Authority on financial planning and assessment of their cities' needs.

Ronald L. Sack, director of OU's School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, said that Douglas' OU duties include acting as an alumni liaison and arranging alliances with fellow engineers, as well as fund-raising for such items as student scholarships and faculty enhancements.

"RGDC Inc. was very active at OU this past spring," Sack said. "Two RGDC partners, Douglas and Gravlin, recently assisted our environmental science students by teaching a Capstone Design Course _ a program that we consider a gateway course for our seniors. RGDC not only defined the project with a design challenge, but actually listened to and critiqued reports of approximately a dozen students.

"These types of projects are very beneficial, because they not only create alliances within the industry and promote ethics and team building, but also because they define realistic problems for our students to solve. …