PULLMAN – Approximately 300 civil engineering students from throughout the Northwest will come to WSU to race concrete canoes, build steel bridges and participate in the annual Pacific Northwest Regional American Society of Civil Engineers student conference.

The event, which draws students from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and British Columbia, will be held Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24.

The steel bridge competition will be held 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, April 23, in Beasley Coliseum. The concrete canoe competition will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 24, in the Snake River at Chief Timothy State Park in Clarkston.

Each university team includes 15 to 20 students who have been preparing for months to construct their designs. The teams have new specifications to meet each year, and at the end of the allotted time, the bridge and canoe designs judged to be the best will win.

Top teams move on to the national competition, and WSU has often placed high, says Shane Brown, assistant professor in the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and ASCE advisor.

“The students get all those business skills but a lot of good engineering design skills as well,” Brown said. “It’s neat. They are really challenging problems.”

In addition to the two main competitions, the host school comes up with other competitions. This year, WSU will have an old-fashioned surveying competition from 10 a.m. to noon Friday in Beasley, a concrete horseshoe competition from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Chief Timothy State Park and an environmental competition that requires students to design pervious concrete samples. The weekend also includes a student-coordinated awards banquet at Schweitzer Event Center.
Brown emphasized that the weekend is entirely organized by the students and that competitors and coordinators alike put in hundreds of hours to prepare and create a successful event.

“They get personal skills, good engineering skills and they contribute a ton to the department,” Brown said.

The students also organize fundraising and judging. Many other schools have high budget events, but WSU students raise all the funds themselves, which has been challenging in tough economic times.

“The donors have really stepped up, and we have raised as much as we needed,” said Marcus Miller, co-chair of the conference. “Everyone wants to help.”

The donors include BergerABAM, CH2M Hill, Cary Kopczynski and Company Structural Engineers, Esvelt Environmental Engineering, INTEGRUS Architecture, J-U-B Engineers, Kiewit, PBS Engineering + Environmental, Stacy and Witbeck Incorporated, Structural Designs PLLC and Turner Construction Company. The Inland Empire Section of ASCE is also involved in the event.

The students also approached professional engineers in the community to be judges at the event.

“It’s a neat way to bring students and practicing engineers together for a fun weekend,” Brown said.

“We are trying to create a good, enjoyable experience for everyone, and being a part of it is exciting,” Miller said.
All events are free and open to the public.
For more information, including a detailed schedule, please see the conference Web site http://asce.ce.wsu.edu/pnwrc2010.
Click here to view a previous ASCE Steel Bridge Competition video.