Civil engineers in training compete in PASCE

Students participate in contest for first time, take third place

By Patrick Fleming
On March 30, 2017

Photos contributed by Dr. Daniel Castaneda

Student members of the Pre-American Society of Civil Engineers,  Pre-ASCE, visited  the Texas-Mexico Regional Student Symposium in El Paso to compete in the annual Concrete Bowling Ball Challenge for the first time.

“It gave me a chance to make new friends within our organization and to feel more involved in our engineering program,” Joshua Pirkle said. “Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunity to take part in this and look forward to doing it again for the duration of my time in the program.”

Put together by the Texas section of  the ASCE, the Concrete Bowling Ball Challenge has a relatively simple concept.

Each team is required to create a spherical ball that weighs less than 18 pounds and is seven to nine inches in diameter.

The teams also have to create a poster presentation, showing what they did to create the ball.

When creating this ball, students had to work at the most basic level, even having to create their own concrete mix for construction. This step was very important, considering the fact that at least 60 percent of the ball had to be made out of concrete.

“This competition allowed students an opportunity to apply the theory and lab practices discussed in their courses to a real life project,” Deyton Riddle, senior, said. “Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates.”

In order to do this, the team needed to show ability in communicating as well as cooperating with one another.

The process of finding the right technique ended up taking the students an entire month to complete, all of which was voluntary. They did not receive any extra credit for it.

Competing against six other teams, the team managed to take third place. This becomes even more impressive with the knowledge that most of the team consists of first timers.

“I was really pleased, not necessarily in them placing, that was really no concern of mine,” David Castaneda, assistant professor of civil engineering and faculty advisor for the Pre-ASCE chapter, said.

“What really encouraged me is that in this new program, students are beginning to develop confidence that they can envision themselves as engineers.”

Yet, this is only one of many challenges set forth for engineering students, including a functioning concrete canoe challenge and the steel bridge challenge. This required students to construct a working bridge over a fictitious river, which the organization hopes to compete in next year.

The hope is that this experience will help students in thier classes and future careers.

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