UWP students aid church in expansion efforts

December 17, 2002

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2002_12_17.jpg Senior design students Scott Anderson, Stefan Thoenes, and Shanna Guenzler work on possible expansions for the St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Wauzeka. Photo by Andy McNeill - UWP Photographer

PLATTEVILLE-As churches evolve into more than a place of worship for communities, upgrading facilities and building additions are becoming more and more common, as is the case with St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Wauzeka.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville students Shanna Guenzler of Lanark, Ill., Scott Anderson of Lancaster and Stefan Thoenes of Platteville spent the past three months designing options for a church expansion for assistant dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle's senior design class.

"We were commissioned by the church pastor to design the major construction components for a 1,800 sq. ft., two-story addition to the existing church, which was built in the mid-1800s," said Anderson, student project manager. "We've also been asked to provide an unbiased, accurate cost estimate for the addition."

Members of the church put together a "wish list" of items they would like the new addition to include.

"They would like to see a handicapped bathroom added, as well as a small kitchenette for church fellowship activities, a Sunday school room, an office and additional bathrooms for the day care center," Guenzler said. "From there, we began drawing up floor plans."

At the end of October, the students presented a number of floor plans to the congregation for the addition.

"The church members picked their favorite layout, suggesting a few modifications and minor changes," Thoenes said. "We then used that layout as the base for our structural design and material cost estimates."

In addition to meeting the needs of the congregation and the day care group, the students faced another challenge.

"We needed to design something that would be of sound quality, yet economically feasible since the church would be responsible for raising all of the money for the addition," Thoenes said. "We also needed to take into account that the church members wanted to do as much of the construction themselves as possible. Construction plans had to be relatively simplistic."

The congregation is also hoping contractors will donate some of their time to the church renovation project on the weekends, Anderson said. The students recently presented oral and written reports of the project to the church pastor, with a rough cost estimate of $45,000.

"It wasn't the lowest cost design or the highest, but rather the best quality at a lower cost," Anderson said. "I think the pastor was pleased with our work and the church is already halfway there with fundraising. The project may now be passed onto the next senior design class for a more in-depth, detailed design of the project."

The students agreed the project was an excellent learning tool, affording them the opportunity to use much of their knowledge acquired in previous engineering courses as well as learning new aspects of engineering.

"I really learned what goes into a final project - the time and communication it takes, preparing the report and catering the presentation to our client's understanding." Guenzler said. "I felt we could've spent an entire semester on this project."

Riedle said she was also happy with the outcome of the project.

"I thought the students did a good job and the client was very happy," Riedle said. "They gave the pastor a lot of things to consider that I don't think he had thought about, such as the ease of constructability."

Guenzler, Anderson and Thoenes anticipate graduating this December with degrees in civil engineering. Guenzler is a 1996 graduate of Eastland High School and the daughter of Leslie and Nancy Guenzler of Lanark, Ill. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Following graduation, Guenzler plans to work as a civil engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Anderson is a 1997 graduate of Lancaster High School and the son of Vern and Laurie Anderson of Lancaster. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in project management or structural design.

Thoenes moved to the United States from Moenchen-Gladbach, Germany, in 1997. His wife, Jolene, is a nurse in Darlington and they have a daughter, Kira. Thoenes is a member of ASCE, AGC and Chi Epsilon. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in research with an engineering company or in graduate school.

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