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Civil engineering students race concrete canoes and purify mucky water at ASCE’s 150th celebrations.

More than 1,000 civil engineering students gathered for four days at the American Society of Civil Engineers 150th...


More than 1,000 civil engineering students gathered for four days at the American Society of Civil Engineers 150th Anniversary National Student Conference ending June 24. At the Madison Campus of the University of Wisconsin the students faced skill-testing survival tests such as racing canoes made of concrete, constructing steel bridges in minutes flat, and purifying a tub of filthy water using only common kitchen items.
A team from Laval University in Quebec, was the only Canadian contender in the games. The Canadians were to race a 21.25-foot, 80-lb. craft called Apogee in the concrete canoe race. The origins of the concrete canoe competitions can be traced to the 1960s.
Another student activity was to compete against each other in teams to design a steel bridge in the 11th National Student Steel Bridge Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction. Teams from different regions pre-qualify for the competition and this year a total of 44 steel bridges built by teams of five to 10 students were to be built on the Kohl Center Arena at the university.
The bridges are judged according to their construction speed, lightness, aesthetics, stiffness, construction economy, structural efficiency and overall performance. The bridge had to hold at least 2,500 lbs. of weight with minimal deflection and cost. It also had to be transportable and even had to look good for the judges who were to assess the structure’s aesthetic merits.