ASCE regionals hosted at Illinois
Above: the Illinois steel bridge team constructs its bridge during the bridge-building competition in the Parkland College gym.
Concrete canoe races and bridge-building competitions were just part of the fun April 10-12 when the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Great Lakes Regional Conference competition came to campus. Hosted by CEE at Illinois’ ASCE student chapter, the event featured students from 19 universities competing in eight different contests related to civil and environmental engineering.
The two-day event included concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions, as well as a quiz bowl, contests in surveying, materials engineering, environmental engineering, technical paper writing and a “Mystery Design” project. For that, students don’t learn what they have to design until they arrive on Thursday evening; they must build something during the designated build time on Friday. The top winner from the concrete canoe competition and the top three winners from the steel bridge competition proceeded to the national competitions held in June. The other events are not held at the national level.
The top five finishers in the competition as a whole were the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the University of Evansvile, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Notre Dame. Those qualifying for nationals were the winner of the concrete canoe competition, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the top three in steel bridge, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Milwaukee School of Engineering and a third school which is still being decided due to a technicality. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign placed eighth overall in the conference, with a third-place finish in the concrete canoe competition and an eighth-place finish in steel bridge.
The opportunity to host the regional competition doesn’t come around very often, with schools getting the chance roughly every 20 years. Illinois’ turn came just a year after hosting the national concrete canoe championship competition in 2013. Partly because of this, the ASCE Committee on Student Members recognized the ASCE student chapter with a Letter of Honorable Mention for its outstanding activities in recent years.
The surveying competition gets underway. Photo by Do Hun Lee.
“The Chapter’s accomplishments reflect the enthusiasm and hard work of your student officers and members,” wrote Leslie Payne, director of Educational Activities for ASCE, in a letter to CEE Professor David Lange, ASCE student chapter adviser.
“Really, they have done a lot the past two years,” Lange said. “The national concrete canoe competition, the regional meeting—these are big undertakings.”
Lange praised the work of undergraduate Mark Keller, who served as ASCE student chapter president during 2013 and as a primary organizer for the regional competition, and Armen Amirkhanian, a Ph.D. student and concrete canoe team adviser, who ran the national competition and volunteered for regionals as well. Amirkhanian, who has been involved with concrete canoe competitions since childhood, also cited Keller for organizing hundreds of students and volunteers, as well as various competitions at multiple sites around the area—from the Yeh Center to the gym at Parkland College to Homer Lake, where the canoe races, surveying competition and Mystery Design were held.
“We had possibly the smoothest running regional conference I have ever been to—and I’ve been to over 15 of them,” Amirkhanian said. “While the volunteers played a key role in this success, it would not have been possible without the tireless planning and organization of Mark Keller. He is the sole reason this entire weekend went off without a problem. … Mark made the U of I look like a top program that was able to accommodate around 600 engineering students from 19 different universities with little difficulty.”
Illinois' 2013-14 Concrete Canoe Team.
Illinois' 2013-14 Steel Bridge Team.
The students of the planning committee for the regional competition are pictured here at the banquet.