For the first time in 18 years, San Diego State University will host the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pacific Southwest Conference from April 3 to 5.
University students from schools in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada will network and take part in competitions ranging from concrete canoe races and bridge-building exercises to surveying drills and game-show themed quiz shows.
“It’s basically teams from 18 different schools in this region showing off their engineering skills via competitions,” said Amanda Corbett, a junior at San Diego State University who is a civil engineer major and one of the conference’s coordinators.
Most of the contest will be at San Diego State University, bit the concrete canoe race competition will be held April 4 at De Anza Cove.
Raul Sierra, a senior civil engineer major at SDSU, said the canoe race is a fun and challenging way to become familiar with concrete, which is widely used in construction.
“It’s also very rewarding when you can conquer the concrete and test the canoe and get it running,” Sierra said. “The most challenging part was using the pre-stress concrete method of casting concrete. It’s the first time we have used this method, but it helps with cracking and durability.”
The other big contest is the steel bridge competition, on April 5.
Each team practices for a year with pre-engineering elements, gathering materials and building a small steel bridge. They disassemble the bridge, bring it to the conference and rebuild it for competition. The teams are judged on strength, design and thought process.
There will also be a geo-technical competition involving a sand and water treatment.
All the judges are professional engineers who work in construction.
“This conference is a great way to bring professionals that work in the county together with students and to showcase San Diego State to those coming from outside the area,” Corbett said.
There will also be a job fair and networking events for students to meet with engineering professionals.
Sierra said the goal of the conference is for students to practice their engineering skills outside the classroom and network with professionals.
“A lot of people that attended San Diego State end up staying and working in San Diego, so this conference is a great way to network and show what we can do,” Sierra said.
Student teams at all 18 participating universities raise funds for their materials and travel expenses. In some cases Sierra his team gave presentations to CEOs, seeking donations and sponsors for the concrete-canoe competitions.
“Most companies are willing to give, but you have to give them updates and progress of your canoe,” Sierra said.
All of the events are open to the public, including the canoe races, except for the surveying competition and technical paper presentations. Parking will be available in PS4 for those attending the events on Thursday and Saturday at San Diego State.
The host site of the Pacific Southwest Conference rotates among the 18 participating universities. Some of these schools include the University of Arizona; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and the University of Southern California.
Winners of each region go on to compete in nationals.