Civil Engineering Students Win Third Place at Regional Competition

    Pacific's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers won third place overall at the annual ASCE Mid-Pacific Student Conference.

    Apr 29, 2011
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    Students from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter at University of the Pacific won third-place overall at the Mid-Pacific Student Conference hosted by ASCE.  A total of 28 students from Pacific participated in the conference, which took place at Sacramento State University from April 14-16, 2011, and included competitions, technical presentations, social activities and an awards banquet.

    "I was very pleased with how our school performed at the conference," says junior and ASCE Student Chapter President Caroline Grant.  "Our success was a pleasant surprise and I know that some of our members are already looking forward to competing next year."

    Pacific was one of 12 schools competing at Mid-Pac, as the conference is often called, and placed after UC Berkeley, and University of Nevada - Reno, in the overall competition, surpassing larger schools like UC Davis and San Jose State University.

    "To be such a small school and place third in the overall competition was so inspiring," says senior and Geo-Challenge team member Kenneth Danielson.  "To have competed next to huge schools such as Berkeley and University of Nevada - Reno and placed right up there with them really showed people how accomplished our school is as engineering students."

    The students' participation in the Steel Bridge, Water Treatment, and Geo-Challenge Competitions required an extensive amount of preparation which included fundraising, designing, and testing their systems months before the competition.   Points were given for their placement in these competitions, a transportation engineering event, and the mini-games of volleyball, horseshoes, and tug-o-war.  Overall participation and spirit were also considered.

    Geo-Challenge Team Sweeps Awards

    The Geo-Challenge team swept all three awards for Most Efficient Design, Aesthetics, and First Place Overall for their Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) retaining wall. The team was required to design a MSE retaining wall made only of paper reinforcement taped to a poster board but designed to hold back 50 lb. of sand along with a 50 lb. surcharge load and a 25 lb. horizontal load.

    Danielson credits the engineering classes at Pacific for the team's success.  "Being our first year in the competition and doing so well really showed how great our classes have been at Pacific, especially the Geotechnical classes taught by Dr. Scott Merry," he says. "Without his teachings we would never have gotten as far as we did."

    Pacific also received points in the Aesthetics portion of the Transportation competition and for overall spirit.  Additionally, Grant won first place and a $100 cash prize for her paper "The ABC's of Infrastructure" in the Daniel W. Mead Student Contest, where students address ethical issues regarding the profession of civil engineering.

    Participating in the conference raised numerous opportunities for students, including applying classroom knowledge to a large project, developing skills beyond technical experience, and building strong relationships with fellow classmates.

    "I definitely recommend getting involved in the Mid-Pac Conference because it offers the kind of hands on learning that we don't always get in the classroom," says junior and Geo-Challenge team member Natalie Muradian.  "These competitions offer more than technical experience, they offer leadership opportunities and improving teamwork and communication skills, not to mention networking with individuals as well as industry."