TTU civil engineering students take top spot in ASCE competition

Engineering students with talent enough to make concrete frisbees soar earned Tennessee Tech University first place in one of the nation’s most prestigious university contests.

Tennessee Tech’s ASCE student chapter, about 40 strong, claimed victory at the American Society of Civil Engineers Southeast Regional Student Conference, defeating 18 other universities including Vanderbilt, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the University of Florida.

“I am pleased that our students continue to shine and represent Tech at the highest level,” said Roy Loutzenheiser, interim chairperson of TTU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The conference featured a series of competitive events to test the students’ ability to apply their knowledge and skills on a practical level. Several of the events allowed the civil engineering majors to wow their audiences with projects that seem counterintuitive, such as creating concrete frisbees that fly for distance and accuracy and concrete canoes that float.

TTU’s students placed first in the concrete Frisbee competition as well as in the “mystery event,” a challenge unknown to contestants before their arrival.

“This year, we played “Civil Survivors” where contestants earned the right to progress from station to station by answering difficult engineering questions,” said Shannon Bennett, chapter president. “Our team won with about a 30-minute lead over the other competitors.”

TTU’s chapter also placed second in the environmental competition, third in Geotech, fourth in concrete strength and fourth in the steel bridge event.

“Every team that participates wants to be the best, so it’s clear from day one that a lot of pride is at stake,” said Bennett. “Each of our students specialized in a particular event and worked in smaller teams to make us strong in all areas. Our adviser, Dr. Richard Lowhorn, helps us with specific problems and questions, but we are very self-motivated to perform well for ourselves and our university.”

Traditionally, TTU has turned in strong performances during the annual conference. Last year’s team finished sixth overall, and past teams have consistently ranked in the Top Ten. Despite this year’s winning performance, TTU’s students celebrated their victory several days after the awards ceremony. An error by organizers in calculating the final rankings originally placed TTU second, but was soon corrected.

ASCE represents more than 133,000 members of the civil engineering profession and is the nation’s oldest national engineering society. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics, civil engineering jobs are expected to increase 10 to 20 percent by 2010.


CUTLINE 1: Men of Steel — Members of Tennessee Tech University’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers construct a steel bridge as part of their award-winning efforts in a recent competition. TTU took first place over 18 other universities in the Southeast at ASCE’s Southeast Regional Student Conference.

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