Concrete canoes, steel bridges highlight ASCE competition on campus

Posted by Karen Lykins - Monday, March 21 2011
klykins@tntech.edu
Office of Communications & Marketing

thumb_TTU_Canoe_2See concrete canoes float and steel bridges rise when Tennessee Tech University's civil engineering department hosts the annual American Society of Civil Engineers Southeastern Student Conference March 24-26.

The competitions will be held on the Main Quad and in Memorial Gym on Friday and at Cane Creek Park on Saturday. The event is free and open to the public, and anyone is invited to attend any part of the competition.

The student-organized event is expected to have more than 835 students representing 26 schools from around the world and will include 70 judges and participation by at least 50 other TTU faculty and staff. More than 150 middle school students will also visit campus to see the concrete canoe and steel bridge displays and tour the STEM Center.

"We want people to know who we are and what civil engineers do," said Lindsay Bryant, concrete canoe team member. "We also want people to see what a wonderful town Cookeville is."

The concrete canoe race is set for 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Cane Creek Park, and it will feature more than 20 canoes that each measure about 20-feet long, broadcasts from local radio stations, and live music.

The concrete canoe competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers.

It challenges the students' knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material. The project takes all year to plan and work on and will be judged on four components: visual, written, presentation, and race at Cane Creek Park.

"We want to show people that engineering isn't just math and science," said Tim Harrell, steel bridge team member.

The steel bridge competition is a real-world project where team members create a bridge with materials given to them.

The teams this year will be challenged to build their bridge with the capability to go over a flood plain. They will be judged on the time it takes them to build and create the bridge, how much weight can be deflected, and aesthetics. Students will also have a chance to gain extra points by making the bridge lighter in weight.

"I like how the competitions are real world problems," Bryant said, "because sometimes you don't get that in a classroom."

Most of the event's competitions on Friday will be held on the Main Quad, and canoe and steel bridge displays will be set up in the Memorial Gym.

Organizers warn, however, that campus traffic could be somewhat more congested than normal on Thursday afternoon, March 24, because of the event's 6-9 p.m. registration time. Organizers say they hope to have all competitors on campus and unloaded from buses at the Memorial Gym by 7:45 p.m.

Last year Tech placed fifth in the ASCE competitions. To find out more about the event or to make a donation visit http://www.tntech.edu/asceconference/home/.