April 5, 2005 — Concrete canoes, bottle rockets, scale-model steel bridges and tunnels made of sand will be put to the test Friday April 8 and Saturday April 9 when the University of Utah hosts the Rocky Mountain regional conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The meeting is expected to draw about 300 civil engineering students and 60 university, government and private civil engineers from Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, says conference organizer Pedro Romero, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah.
“The point is to teach students about civil engineering and have fun at the same time,” Romero says, noting that the various contests involve the same principles used in engineering construction projects, as well as skills such as teamwork, scheduling and budgeting.
Romero says news media are invited to cover the two-day meeting and its various contests. The events also are open to the public, except for a 7 p.m. Saturday closing banquet at the Little America Hotel’s Ballroom Central. The keynote speaker will be Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Coroon, a civil engineer who will speak on the role that engineers play in society and politics.
The winner of the concrete canoe contest – which will be held in the Utah County community of Highland – will join 17 other regional winners at the National Concrete Canoe Competition at Clemson University during June 25-27. The team winning the steel bridge-building event will participate in the National Student Steel Bridge Competition at the University of Central Florida in Orlando May 27-28.
Here are details of events during this week’s meeting in Utah:
Concrete Canoe Competition and Related Events
- 10 a.m. to noon Friday April 8 at Aquatech, 9435 S. 255 West, Sandy. Before Saturday’s races, the canoes must be subjected to a “swamp test” in which they are completely submerged and then must float to the surface. For directions to Aquatech, see http://www.civil.utah.edu/%7Easce/pdf/to-swamp-test.pdf
- 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday April 9 at the Little America Hotel’s Ballroom East. Teams building the concrete canoes will give oral presentations to judges on how they built their canoes and the materials they used.
- 1 to 5 p.m. at Highland Glen Park, Highland. Aesthetics judging of the concrete canoes from 1 to 1:30 p.m., followed by concrete canoe races from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Races include women’s slalom/endurance, men’s slalom/endurance, women’s sprint, men’s sprint and co-ed sprint. For directions to Highland Glen Park, 10189 N. 4800 West, Highland see http://www.civil.utah.edu/~asce/pdf/to-canoe-races.pdf
- 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday April 8. Technical papers will be presented in the Little America Hotel’s Flagstaff room.
- 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday April 8. Nontechnical papers will be presented in the Little America Hotel’s Sun Valley room. The subject of these six-minute presentations is, “Computers, Civil Engineering, and Ethics.”
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday April 8. Career Fair displays will be set up by some 20 to 25 companies in the Little America Hotel’s Ballroom East.
- 1 to 3 p.m. Friday April 8. Pre-Design event (in which students are told in advance what they will design) will be held at the Little America Hotel parking level P2. Students in this event will build a scale-model tunnel using sand, water and a 4-foot-long, 6-inch diameter PVC pipe. The pipe is placed in sand, just the right amount of water is added to the sand and the pipe is removed. The tunnel must “hold” without the pipe. Weight then is added to each tunnel. The winning tunnel is the one that withstands the most weight before collapsing.
- 1 to 6 p.m. Friday April 8, Steel Bridge Competition at the Little America Hotel, parking level P2. Students have been working on designs for six months to a year. They must build a scale-model steel bridge between two points. They are judged on construction speed, bridge weight, aesthetics and how much weight the bridge can support. Bridges are disqualified for supporting less than 2,500 pounds.
- 1 to 3 p.m. Friday April 8. Mystery Design event will be held at the Little America Hotel parking level P2. In this event, students do not get to prepare designs in advance. They will be asked at the event to build water-pressure bottle rockets using plastic soda bottles.
- 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday April 9 at Highland Glen Park, Highland. Mystery Design event, launch portion. The bottle rockets will be launched, and must hit a target. For directions to Highland Glen Park, 10189 N. 4800 West, Highland see http://www.civil.utah.edu/~asce/pdf/to-canoe-races.pdf
For complete details of the University of Utah-hosted regional meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers, see http://www.civil.utah.edu/~asce/