Take a team of engineers. Put them on an airport runway and tell them to put new pavement down. On paper, it sounds like a simple, straightforward reconstruction project, but looking at a runway that is over two miles long, 150 feet wide, has lights embedded in the pavement, has enormous, complex markings, and sophisticated instrument landing systems, it becomes obvious that the task is a large, intricate effort.

That’s why a team of five UNH engineering students teamed with Hoyle, Tanner and Pease Development Authority on a real-time airport project at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease. The runway reconstruction project serves as the 2019 UNH Senior Civil Engineering Capstone class for this team of graduating seniors.

While Hoyle, Tanner provided official design and management of the runway reconstruction, the students participated in a number of aspects:

  • a cost-benefit-analysis of two different runway lengths
  • pavement design
  • taxiway geometry design
  • cost estimating
  • construction phasing

At the beginning of the school year, the students went to Pease to gain an understanding of existing runway conditions. Throughout the school year, the students have been working on the project, discovering that one of the biggest challenges is keeping the only runway at Pease open during construction. The challenge was to phase construction so that the runway could remain open as much as possible and minimize disruptions to the key customers at Pease as it accommodates a range of users– commercial, military, general aviation, and cargo aircraft traffic.

Aside from providing students with hands-on experience before they graduate, this project highlighted one of New Hampshire’s largest recent aviation infrastructure projects and gave them some insight into working on complicated, multi-disciplined, and customer-focused airfield projects.