NMSU’s ASCE chapter to host regional conference, competition April 8-10

Writer: Mark Cramer

If you have any pressing civil engineering needs, you may want to head to New Mexico State University’s Las Cruces campus  April 8-10.

The Daniel B. Jett student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers is hosting the ASCE 2010 Rocky Mountain Regional Conference Thursday through Saturday, and civil engineering students from 15 universities from throughout the region will be on hand to demonstrate their know-how and savvy in a variety of events. About 300 students are expected to compete.

NMSU was originally set to host the event in 2011, but the local ASCE chapter stepped in to help out the United States Air Force Academy, the intended host for this year’s conference.

“We’re hosting the conference this year because the faculty at the Air Force Academy was called to active duty,” explained chapter president Adrian Delgadillo. “We really respect what they’re doing for our country and were happy to be able to help them out in any way possible. This is a big deal, we only get to host the conference once every 15 years.”

The 2010 Rocky Mountain Regional Conference kicks off at 4 p.m. Thursday at Preciado Park, near O’Donnell hall on campus. The first event, “Can-struction,” serves not only as a way to challenge the competitors in structural engineering concept and design, but also as a philanthropic event.

“ASCE has been hosting a canned food drive, and we will continue to solicit donations, either canned food items or monetary contributions, though the start of the Can-struction event,” said Delgadillo. “We will use all of the cans to build structures, like replicas of the Roman Coliseum or the Eiffel Tower or the Sphinx, and after judging is complete we will pack up the items and give the food to local charities. It’s a great way to get our civil engineering students involved in the community.”

Events kick on in earnest Friday and Saturday at locations around campus. Teams will compete in a total of seven engineering events, including the Can-struction competition. Students will present both technical and non-technical papers for judging, and the popular bridge building and concrete canoe competitions will take place by Rentfrow Gym on Williams Ave. Saturday morning teams will race their canoes on Sam Steele Pond, by the intersection of Union Ave. and Stewart St.

The steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions are the culmination of a year’s worth of work. At the beginning of the academic year, the ASCE student chapters are given rules for the events, along with model specifications and deadlines for completion of particular tasks.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, teams will set up their bridges, and they will be judged on the time it takes to construct as well as their aesthetic value. That afternoon the structures will undergo load-bearing tests of up to 2,500 pounds, as well as other challenges to determine the overall strongest structure.

Meanwhile, the concrete canoe teams will present their finished products for aesthetic judging from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, followed by a “swamp test.” The canoes will be swamped with water and then have to rise back to the surface to successfully compete. A special tank filled with water will be used for the competition. Both the steel bridge and concrete canoe swamp tests will take place near Rentfrow Gym, so that spectators and team members will have easy access to both events.

Saturday morning from 8:30 to noon teams will compete in five different canoe races on Sam Steele Pond, a large storm-water retention pond.

Saturday afternoon, teams will compete in mystery design and pre-design competitions.

For the pre-design competition, teams must build and test an hydraulic ram pump based on rules they received last September. Judges will rate the pumps based performance, material costs and innovation.

“For the mystery design, it’s ‘Here’s the project specs—You have two hours to complete it,” said Delgadillo. “Materials are provided, but the team has no idea what the competition will be until right before they are to begin. It’s exciting because you’re under pressure and you may be doing something you’ve never had to do before.”

The conference concludes with a banquet at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Ramada Palms Hotel. Winners of the concrete canoe, steel bridge and non-technical paper presentations will advance to national competition.

Delgadillo said the NMSU chapter of ASCE will spend $45,000 to host and compete in the conference. The chapter raised the money independently through various fundraising efforts. About 45 students from the local chapter will represent NMSU at the event.

For more information on ASCE or the Rocky Mountain Regional Conference, visit http://cagesun.nmsu.edu/~asce/.

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