Dominic Eason will receive an undergraduate degree in civil and construction engineering this year. He served as project manager for his senior project, which explored possible routes to fiscal and environmental sustainability for the Willamette Falls Locks on the Willamette River at Oregon City, Ore.

Dominic EasonEason said that the locks, which are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are dilapidated and in need of funding since they no longer receive federal dollars. “Without the locks, which allow boats traveling up and downstream to pass the falls, water crafts would have to portage out and around with trucks,” Eason explained.

“Our task was to generate an innovative system and revenue plan that would reduce the monetary footprint to zero for the U.S. Army Corps,” he said. Eason and his team will present their proposal to the corps alongside other college teams that have created proposals. “It is not so much an expectation that a specific project will be implemented, but the ideas will be pooled and considered for viability.”

Eason’s team proposed building a 20,000-square-foot facility that includes a visitor’s center, museum, market, and available-to-lease office space in addition to a fish hatchery that will involve the community in educational opportunities. In addition to the locks themselves, Oregon City Bridge is among historical landmarks visible from the site. “We want to preserve the historic nature of the Willamette Falls Locks and also to bring people in,” said Eason, “Our plan is estimated to generate $300,000 per year.”

Eason praised Oregon State’s engineering faculty. “They are genuinely concerned about getting you to the next level,” said Eason. Among the reasons Eason was drawn to Oregon State after completing the core of his bachelor’s degree elsewhere, was that while speaking with professionals and contractors, he had “an overwhelming feeling that students who come out of OSU are well prepared.”

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