Photo courtesy of Vy Lee

On a sunny Thursday morning in April, members of the Georgia Tech chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (GTASCE) drove in anticipation to Duke University, where this year’s annual 2018 ASCE Carolinas Conference was held. Various colleges in the southeast region gather together to compete in civil engineering challenges.

While Tech took home a variety of awards for various competitions as they have in previous years, this year’s conference was no ordinary event for GT ASCE. Their total score allowed them to win first place overall, a feat that has not be accomplished since 2002.

The conference is comprised of various competitions, ranging from Hydraulics, in which teams must create a hydraulic lift to move an object 45 feet up a slope using the force of water, to Transportation, in which teams were tasked with creating a plan for transportation improvements to be implemented in Durham, NC to relieve traffic congestion and improve the overall transportation system in the city. The hydraulics team was led by Mia Pendergast, second-year CE, and won first place. The transportation team, lead by Juwon Drake, fifth-year CE and vice president of meetings, won first place for the second consecutive year.

Other teams included Steel Bridge, in which teams are tasked with designing and building a 17 foot-long steel bridge that must be capable of holding 2500 pounds.

“Unfortunately, we did not place this year because of hardware issues that happened,” said team lead Mihai Mavrodin, fourth-year CE. “Even though the team didn’t make it, everyone on the team gained valuable experience and had a great time.”

The name is self-explanatory for the Concrete Canoe competition — teams must design and build a canoe made out of concrete. The criteria for this challenge are that the canoes must float, hold up to four paddlers and be able to race in sprints and endurance events on the water. Concrete Canoe, led by Michael Waters, fourth-year CE, won second place in the co-ed Sprint, second place in the Women’s sprint in which Tech made a great comeback against Clemson and third place in Product Display. This year, Tech’s canoe theme was based off of the Swallowtail butterfly.

Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe are the two most time-intensive competitions of the conference, as they require year-long preparation.

“I think the biggest challenge at Conference is simply getting everything done in time,” said Caroline Stanton, fourth-year CE and President of GTASCE. “I know most of our teams worked right up until it was time to leave for Duke. Balancing coursework and extracurriculars is always hard, and I am overwhelmingly impressed with the level of dedication shown by our students.”

The Environmental Competition, led by Caroline Efferth, second-year CE, involved simulating a landfill liner that prevents leads of leachate from a simulated landfill and won first-place.

“Pre-conference preparation was key,” said Efferth. “When I looked around the room at the other teams, their designs could have easily been modified in order to work had they tested them beforehand and fixed the flaws. I’m glad that the GT team tested beforehand and worked from there. It just goes to show that preparation pays off.”

Mead Paper was a prompt-based competition, in which one student from each ASCE chapter was required to write a paper and complete an oral presentation on how the personal and professional use of social media relates to the ASCE Code of Ethics. The competition was completed by Alesa Stallman, Conference Chair and second-year MSCE, and won second place.

In the Surveying competition, led by Sam Dennard, Vice President of membership and fifth-year CE, the teams were required to compete in three events related to the field of surveying — pacing and estimating the length of an unknown horizontal distance, estimating a vertical elevation using simple mathematical tools and determining unknown angles and distances using modern surveying equipment. The team won third place.

“I decided to lead this team after watching one of our teams borrow equipment from UGA two years ago to even be able to compete,” said Dennard. “They had not charged the batteries for their equipment before the competition, much less even practiced. I organized three weeks of practice for the team before the competition and motivated them with the simple goal to compete for our first top three finish since 2012. I believed in our capabilities in my teammates to perform, and they came through for me at our competition.”

Concrete Cornhole, led by Danny Maciolek, fourth-year CE, won third place and was based on constructing a cornhole board out of concrete and then playing a cornhole game.

Stanton hopes that in order to continue the legacy, underclassmen attending the competition this year will step up to take on leadership positions at the next conference.

“Turnover in clubs is always difficult, but after watching all of our younger students do such an amazing job at Conference I think the legacy and future of GT ASCE is in good hands,” said Stanton.

“This group of students exemplifies the very best that Georgia Tech has to offer,” said Dr. David Scott, Georgia Tech ASCE’s Faculty Advisor. “They amply demonstrated the type of quality found in the Institute student body.”