FIU and University of Miami Co-Host 2013 ASCE Southeast Student Conference

Georgia Southern University students assessing their entry in the Steel Bridge competition

Georgia Southern University students assessing their entry in the Steel Bridge competition

The Southeast Student Conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is an annual event in which Civil and Environmental Engineering students from around the region come together to test their classroom knowledge in practical applications. This year, the ASCE student chapters from over two dozen U.S. universities traveled to Miami to compete against each other in civil engineering competitions.

2013 marks the second time in eleven years that the conference has taken place in Miami. Around 1,000 students participated in various contests, networking events, professional paper presentations and other activities from Thursday, March 14 to Saturday, March 16.

Watch a video from FIU News about the ASCE event here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8QjqRnvgKY&feature=youtu.be

An entirely student-organized event, the ASCE Southeast Student Conference was co-hosted by the ASCE student chapters of FIU and the University of Miami. Undergraduate FIU Civil Engineering students Dania Castillo (ASCE 2013 Conference Chair) and Felipe Cifelli (FIU-ASCE President) spearheaded conference planning with help from a committee and oversight from ASCE Faculty Advisor Hesham Ali, Ph.D., professor in the FIU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The concrete canoe built by the USF ASCE chapter

The concrete canoe built by the USF ASCE chapter

To cover the nearly $100,000 cost of putting on the conference, FIU and UM student organizers garnered financial support from 18 sponsor organizations – many of them companies with strong ties to the South Florida engineering community.

“This conference is by far the biggest of the ASCE Regional conferences, so our small chapter had to put in a tremendous amount of effort to make it work,” says Felipe Cifelli. “Whereas some regions may only have six or 10 universities attending and competing only in one or two major competitions, the southeast region had 25 universities competing in 15 competitions.”

Among the many conference activities were traditional ASCE competitions – including the Steel Bridge challenge, Balsa Tower building contest, and Concrete Canoe competition – and a newcomer event that showcased FIU’s preeminent Wall of Wind (WOW) research facility.

FAU students with the mitigation solution they tested in the Wall of Wind challenge

FAU students with the mitigation solution they tested in the Wall of Wind challenge

The Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge was a brand new competition introduced exclusively to the 2013 ASCE Southeast Student Conference. The event made use of the state-of-the-art 12-fan WOW hurricane simulator to familiarize students with the basics of wind hazard mitigation. Each competing student team was tasked with creating a mitigation solution to improve a building’s aerodynamic performance. Student-designed solutions were tested on their ability to prevent gravel on structures’ roofs from being blown away by hurricane-force winds.

The victor of the Wall of Wind challenge also turned out to be the big winner overall: the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez, whose team was honored with a trophy at the closing awards ceremony on Saturday, March 16 at Jungle Island. For the full conference rankings, click here.

Congratulations to the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez on winning at the largest ASCE student conference. We thank the FIU-ASCE student chapter for your excellent work planning, organizing and executing such a huge, successful event in partnership with the University of Miami ASCE chapter.

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