Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

ASCE preps for national competition


Members of the University of Alabama chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers insist that engineers do, in fact, have fun, recounting times they raced concrete canoes and visited the largest construction site in the history of Alabama.

Every year the student chapter at Alabama attends the ASCE Southeast Student Conference. There, they show off their year-long projects, such as a concrete canoe and steel bridge, built by students.

“It was cool to be able to meet everybody that was in the ASCE and drive down there and have a fun time doing engineering things,” Preston Jutte, vice president of operations at ASCE, said. “I guess that sounds nerdy, but it was really fun.”

(See also “College of Engineering to offer 2 new degrees“)

The students began working in August on their concrete canoe and were graded on a technical design paper, oral presentation, visual display, final product and, of course, the actual races, during which the chapters set up tents along the beach and cheered on their fellow students.

“It’s just a lot of fun, win or lose,” Brittany Shake, vice president of communications at ASCE, said.

This year the team’s theme is “Save the Amazon Rainforest,” so the boat is suitably named “Bamazon.” The display is made of 100 percent recycled material.

Last year in Miami, the Alabama ASCE chapter placed top 10 in both the concrete canoe competition and the steel bridge contest. The steel bridge team scoredsecond in “Stiffness” for its 2013 bridge.

(See also “College of Engineering sees growth“)

For the upcoming 2014 conference in Tampa during spring break, the ASCE team of 26 students designed a 17-foot long bridge onto which it will load 2,500 pounds.

“It’s a big chance for the ASCE student chapter to get together and show off the hard work that we’ve done through our chapter,” Jutte said.

In 2016, the UA chapter will host the conference in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s going to take a lot of planning, but basically a 1,000-person conference will be planned by us and a handful of other people,” Jutte said. “It will be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.”

When the group isn’t working on conference projects, the ASCE is attending local job sites. Local contracting company Brasfield and Gorrie will give ASCE a tour of the Grandview Medial Center site, a hospital being built in Birmingham, on April 11.

The organization also participates in community events like E-day, hosted by the UA Engineering Department for high school students interested in engineering and Science Olympiad, where middle and high school students compete in math and science-based contests.

Jutte said one of the central objectives of ASCE is to build relationships with other engineers and network with professionals. He said hearing about the careers of current engineers helps members decide what route of engineering to pursue.

“Even if it’s not about getting jobs or the futures, it’s just getting to know people that are in the industry and what they did to get there,” President Clayton Dodd said.

The group has expanded drastically, growing almost four times its size in two years. Two years ago, there were 40 members, but now the group is composed of around 150.

“The future is wide open,” Dodd said. “We’ve gone from having one chapter meeting a semester to site visits and socials.”

The ASCE invites anyone interested in engineering to attend their next chapter meeting March 11 in 240 H.M. Comer at 6 p.m.

(See also “Engineering professor makes name for himself in musical world“)

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