Cement canoe to row and glow in the dark in regional competition

UB ASCE to compete in the Upstate New York Regional Conference

On April 22, 2014

  • Sean Terry, a junior civil engineering major, works on the steel bridge, one of the designs American Society of Civil Engineers members are using to compete in the Upstate New York Regional Competition. Michelle Nguyen, The Spectrum

There are three thingsthat the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) members hope will give them an advantage in the Upstate New York Regional Conference: a steel bridge, a glow-in-the-dark cement canoe and a cowbell.

ASCE will once again compete in the at Cornell University this Thursday through Sunday. The club will showcase its steel bridge and functional cement canoe, which the members have been working on since the fall semester.

"It's basically treating it like it's an actual real world engineering project," said Anna Kelting, a junior civil engineering major and secretary of ASCE. The soon-to-be president said most members have put several hours daily into the project for the past two semesters.

Timothy Van Oss, the current president, said there is always someone in Jarvis 117, their lab room, working on the bridge and canoe. The senior civil engineering major said on a usual day, members show up between classes until 8:00 p.m. And as the competition nears, it's common for members to stay late toiling on their projects until midnight.

This year's canoe design focuses on a galactic theme and the natural aspects of space. ASCE's canoe will create a constellation map within the interior of the canoe, according to Andrea Sacco, a junior civil engineering major and the team's project manager.

Sacco said the team came up with the idea after an adviser introduced them to glow-in-the-dark aggregate.

The material, which they refer to as "glo-gregate," is glow-in-the-dark stones or sand that can be added to concrete mixtures. The material can glow for up to 12 hours after 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight or artificial light.

The team named its canoe after the alpha star of the Taurus constellation - Alderban - nicknamed "the fiery eye of the bull." Alderban will be featured in the center of the canoe's design.

"We felt that this name best represented us as UB students, since our mascot is the bull," Sacco said. Van Oss echoed the sentiment saying the team also bought a cowbell for the competition to show school spirit.

The canoe stand will be made to resemble nebula clouds to create the illusion that the canoe is floating, and the display table will resemble an astronomer's desk.

Van Oss will be one of 40 members attending the conference, which hosts universities from upstate New York and Canada.

Three awards will be available at the conference, for best cement canoe, steel bridge and an overall award, which includes the first two competitions, a mystery competition and scavenger hunt.

UB's team won second place for the overall category in last year's conference.

"They do a good job of combining the technical civil stuff that we do as a club and work on our projects," Kelting said. "And so, this is where we unveil our bridge and our canoe, which are the two major teams that compete at that conference."

Kelting said the teams use a combination of knowledge from their engineering classes, advice from older members and help from their many professional advisers.

During the competitions, the steel bridge and cement canoe portions are "the crown jewels," according to Van Oss. Everyone is usually analyzing everyone else's display, he said.

Last year, UB's main competition, École de Technologie Supérieure from Montréal, used the same font as UB for its canoe, to the chagrin of the UB team.

UB won first place in the mystery competition last year. The teams were given materials like basal wood, tape and glue to build a structure that could withstand the greatest force. The teams were graded on the strength and innovation of the structure as well as how many materials were used to make it. UB's team incorporated even the ruler and wrapping that was given.

"Everyone was really pissed because we found a loophole," Van Oss said.

The first, second and third place winners of the steel bridge team and the first place winner of the cement canoe team this year will be able to attend the national competition in Akron, Ohio and Johnstown, Pa., respectively.

Van Oss said ASCE's steel bridge team does well and often proceeds to the national competition. Last year, the team placed 11th out of the 213 teams from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The cement canoe team has gone to nationals three times in the last six years.

With this track record, ASCE hopes to improve its standings with each year that comes.


email: news@ubspectrum.com

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