CEE Students Take ASCE Mid-Atlantic Competitions by Storm

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UMD Concrete Canoe & Steel Bridge teams

On a warm, sunny weekend in early April, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s (CEE) Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge teams ventured to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. to participate in the 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Mid-Atlantic Competitions.  

Concrete Canoe set a new record for the University of Maryland (UMD), placing first in four of five racing categories and second in the men’s sprint race by a difference of less than nine seconds.

Designed to provide students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they need in their careers, the ASCE Concrete Canoe competition challenges students’ knowledge, creativity and stamina while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.

But, UMD’s Concrete Canoe team was hard at work long before competition week arrived.

According to ASCE UMD President Tess Niehoff, a CEE senior, preparation for the event is a 12-month project. As last year’s project manager, Niehoff experienced firsthand the amount of work students must dedicate to design, fund and build their canoe – even more, the training students undergo to ready for race day.

“I love everything about the Concrete Canoe competition,” Niehoff said. “Being able to see fellow students grow through this program is incredible. I’ve learned so much through my involvement with ASCE and Concrete Canoe, and being able to see other people develop new skills and build friendships has been great. That’s my favorite part – you can put so much into your work with Concrete Canoe, but you also get so much out of it in return. And, I love seeing other people get as much out of it as I have over the years.”

“I have learned a lot of lessons covering every aspect of running a project, from dealing with people to managing money,” added this year’s co-project manager, Chris Woodruff, also a CEE senior. “To have all our work validated with the best finish UMD has had since the team was restarted in 2007 feels great.”

In the endurance races, UMD women and men edged the other five participating schools, finishing 6:21.74 and 5:15.53, respectively. In the sprint division, both the women’s and co-ed UMD teams finished first in their categories, with impressive times of 1:59.08 and 3:25.96, respectively. The men’s sprint team placed second with a recorded time of 1:40.27, edging out the third-place team by less than half a second.

Collectively, UMD’s Concrete Canoe team finished second overall in the Mid-Atlantic competition after placing second in both the presentation and final product categories.

Just a mile away from the academy’s College Creek, the UMD Steel Bridge team showcased their work outside Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 

The ASCE Steel Bridge competition invites participants to design and build an approximately 20-foot span bridge from pieces that must meet particular size requirements. The bridges are tested to hold up to 2,500 pounds of vertical load with minimal bowing and swaying, all while maintaining safety considerations.

UMD’s Steel Bridge team first started in 2010 with only a few members, and its original bridge design featured a single rail space truss with an under truss bracing system that demonstrated great structural support and allowed for minimal pieces to be used.

Today, the team boasts more than a dozen members.

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Published April 25, 2014