Photo courtesy of Jack Li

On a cloudy Thursday morning at Tech, the concrete canoe was loaded into a Penske rental truck and last minute preparations were frantically made for the Steel Bridge competition.

The Georgia Tech chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was bustling with excitement  in anticipation of the annual ASCE Carolinas Conference at UNC Charlotte from Thursday, March 30, to Sunday, April 2.

This year, GT ASCE won third-place overall in ASCE’s annual regional conference, competing in several competitions including Steel Bridge, Concrete Canoe, Hydraulics, Transportation and Mead Paper. GT ASCE received first-place in Transportation and Steel Bridge. They will be attending Nationals in Oregon for Steel Bridge in June.

“All eyes were on our Steel Bridge team at conference since this was the first time in two years that we had been able to complete the project and bring a bridge ready to compete,” said Caroline Stanton, third-year CE, upcoming 2017–2018 GT ASCE President. “Once in Charlotte, those of us on the bridge build team practiced construction tirelessly, for a day and a half until the competition. But all our practice paid off as we built our bridge in eighteen minutes and the bridge passed the 2,500 pound load test with flying colors!” Georgia Tech and NC State were the only two schools whose bridges passed all tests without breaking.”

GT ASCE starts the preparation for the Carolinas Conference as early as the beginning of the school year.

“A lot of the first semester is taken up with design work,” said Tyler Bishop, fourth-year CE and current GT ASCE president. “For Concrete Canoe it means testing material over and over, making sure you get the strongest, lightest concrete. Then for Steel Bridge, it’s using a computer program to design the bridge and do a structural analysis on it.”

However, the conference was not met without challenges.

“The morning before we were to leave Atlanta for Conference in North Carolina, the bridge team found an issue with how we planned to construct the bridge in competition, and we were forced to stay behind to try to come up with a solution,” Stanton said. “Luckily we fixed the problem quickly and headed out a few hours later, getting out just before the major I-85 collapse.”

During the Concrete Canoe competition, the teams were met with bad weather on the lake creating unsafe conditions, which was a let down for GT ASCE, who had put in so much time working on the project over the past year.

Not only did Tech perform well in their Civil Engineering feats, but also in their general presence participating in the competition, winning the Sportsmanship award for the chapter.

According to the Steel Bridge regulations, students competing in Steel Bridge must have a hard hat, safety goggles, and boots.

“Our faculty advisor is David Scott, a professor in the School of Civil Engineering,” Bishop said. “Leading up to the competition, one of the students was missing a pair of boots, so Dr. Scott left, went to the store, bought a pair of boots, and came back so that they could have a pair of boots for the competition to build a bridge.”

Along with the Steel Bridge and Sportsmanship award, GT ASCE also won first place in Mead Paper, a research paper written and presented by graduate student, Maya Goldman, who will be continuing to Nationals for the paper.

Within the region, Georgia Tech competed against Clemson, Duke, UNC Charlotte, NC State, Horry Georgetown, NC A&T State University, University of South Carolina, UGA and The Citadel, along with international chapters, including VIT University from India and Khalifa University from Abu Dhabi.

GT ASCE hopes to improve their conference performance through increased preparation, beginning projects earlier and recruiting more people to be a part of each team.