Aspiring engineers to meet and compete at Saint Martin's University

Feb. 21, 2006

Lacey, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University will welcome about 300 engineering students from Northwest colleges and universities April 6-8 for the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Pacific Northwest Regional Conference.

The annual event includes meetings, professional and technical presentations and several competitions pitting teams of student engineers with their counterparts. Besides the intriguing Concrete Canoe Competition, in which teams will try to out-paddle the competition on Olympia’s Capitol Lake, contenders will vie for top honors in the steel bridge, concrete bocce ball, surveying and geotechnical competitions. In all matches, competitors will be applying what they’ve learned in the classroom.

In the Concrete Canoe Competition, students are challenged to design an efficient, floatable boat using some basic guidelines and an inventive – often secret – concrete mixture. Each team’s canoe must be 75 percent cement, in fact. Under the association’s scoring, 75 percent of the total team score is based on its use of engineering design and construction principles, as presented in a written and oral presentation. The remainder is based on the canoe’s race performance in five events: men’s and women’s slalom/endurance races, men’s and women’s sprint races and a co-ed sprint race. But before the canoes are raced, each must be tested in the “swamp test,” a flotation exam to see if the canoe will come to the surface by itself after it’s submerged. Many fail the test or break apart before the races begin. The winning school advances to the national finals.

The steel bridge-builders face similar challenges, as well as a time limit and points for aesthetics.

Colleges and universities attending the conference are: University of Alaska, Anchorage; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Boise State University; Carroll College; Gonzaga University; University of Idaho; Idaho State University; University of British Columbia; Montana State University; Montana Tech of the University of Montana; Oregon State University; University of Portland; Portland State University; Oregon Institute of Technology; Washington State University; and University of Washington.

Thursday, April 6 Registration and Bridge-building Competition
10-3 Registration, Saint Martin’s Pavilion
Noon-4 Bridge set-up, Pavilion gym
4-6 Bridge aesthetics judging (judges only)
5 Pizza feed for bridge teams
6 Bridge captains meeting, Worthington Center
Friday, April 7 Steel Bridge-building, Surveying, Concrete Bocce Ball competitions
7:30 a.m.-completion Bridge-building competition, Pavilion
7:30-9 Brunch for participants, Pavilion lobby
9-noon Survey competition, on campus (starts at Pavilion)
 9-1 Concrete canoe presentations, Worthington Center
Noon Lunch for all teams, Pavilion lobby
1 ASCE business meeting, Worthington Center
2-4 Concrete Bocce Ball Competition, behind Cebula Hall
4-6:30 Geotechnical Competition (location to be announced)
Saturday, April 8 Concrete Canoe Competition and Awards Dinner
7-9 a.m. Concrete Canoe judging, followed by swamp test, Capitol Lake
9:30-3 Concrete Canoe Races and endurance sprints 
11 Lunch
5:30-7:30 Awards dinner for all competitions, Pavilion

For more information:

Patrick Benedict
ASCE SMU chapter treasurer

Chun Seong, PH.D.
ASCE faculty advisor
(360) 438-4318

Deanna Partlow
Media relations coordinator