ASCE Students Give More Than Expected

By Paul J. Cosentino Ph.D., P.E

This is a story about the 22 students, three faculty and lab technician who were part of the American Society of Civil Engineers Southeast Regional Competitions; a 3-day event.

Photo credit: Dr. Bleakley

Last Thursday we woke at 5 a.m. and drove 12 hours to scenic Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By 5 p.m., we had learned that the team who made the steel bridge (mostly young Josh Perry and a couple of big hearted assistants) would not be able to compete because the 20 foot steel bridge had failed during set-up. And later that evening one of the you ladies on the trip had to be taken to a MedExpress to head-off an infection.

We ate dinner by 10 or 10:30 p.m., went back to the hotel and slept until 5 a.m. so that we could drop the concrete canoe, balsa wood bridge, lightweight geotechnical fill, surveying, concrete corn hole (and they say there are rednecks in Alabama), concrete beams, oh I’m forgetting some, and of course get ready for the concrete canoe presentation, the profession paper presentation, plus the ever exciting plan reading event. There were 15 events, with the two main ones, canoe and bridge, having three components. Think of it as being both the Summer and Winter Olympics combined with the same number of athletes held over a shortened time frame.

Photo credit: Dr. Bleakley

Well, we had some deductions on the canoe paper, but the team didn’t break. We made a very nice presentation for the canoe and the young lady making the professional paper presentation dealt with some strange computer systems made available by the 14 time NCAA National Football Champion University. We did a great job Surveying (actually wining this event) completed all the other crazy events, went to dinner, which ended by 9:30 p.m., while the ASCE Advisor Dr. Nakin Suksawang and a couple of our students attended the exhilarating three hour business meeting Friday from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, 28 Universities making decisions on Friday night after a 12-hour day. And they say engineers can’t communicate!

On to Saturday and we’re up at 5 a.m. to head to the race site for the five concrete canoe races which included 28 Universities from Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Everyone told us that our canoe was amazing, but I am telling you that we had the best canoe we have ever made.  It was stronger, built better, and had the best hull design for the races of any canoe in the region. With this year’s canoe, Capitan leaving school after a hasty November decision, we had no paddlers with experience, no team members with construction or design experience.  To even have a canoe at all, meant that everyone gave more than ever could be expected.

Photo credit: Dr. Bleakley

During the races we placed fourth twice, fifth and sixth receiving points in four of the five races. Our Concrete Canoe, “The Marian Racer,” had at least three times the flexural (i.e. resistance to bending) strength as the defending National Champion Gators and weighed approximately the same! We also competed in the corn hole completion, the t-shirt competition and who knows what else on Saturday. The,n we went back to the hotel got all gussied up and went to the Paul Bear Bryant Convention Center so we could stand during the awards banquet.  (Did I mention that Alabama is the 14 Time National Football Champions?) After the banquet, there was some college levity and we hit the sack so we could… yep wake up at 5 a.m. and start the trek back to campus. We drove the four vans for over 12 hours, met Tim Shaffer, the amazing Sorenson FIT Panther Truck driver, back here and unloaded until 9:30 p.m.

So, Monday if any of our students showed up to your class or Drs. Bleakley, Suksawang or Technician Extraordinaire Ed Martin showed up to work, they all deserve some special recognition.  Everyone was exhausted and even though the event is overwhelming, we were able to teach crucial life lessons, especially about teamwork. You know I think they all know now that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.

Our goals next year are high and I told everyone there (not just the students) that for us to achieve them “everyone” must be part of this.  If you are reading this email that means you are part of our dreams.  We’ll need help from “everyone” on campus and even in our local community.

1.    Quinn Duffy
2.    Josh Perry
3.    Nick Miller
4.    Ethan Samberg
5.    McKenzie Clark
6.    Alex Thierer
7.    Malaak Araujo
8.    Lara Eremita
9.    Christopher Laurore
10.  Joshua Michalski
11.  Samuel Moses
12.  Krysti Patrick
13.  Christopher Peterson
14.  Spenser Puffenbarger
15.  Derek Ratcliffe
16.  Sara Schulte
17.  Alex Thierer
18.  Zimeena Rasheed
19.  Amanda Johnson
20.  Justine Marchal
21.  Marcus Mancini
22.  Lily Buth


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