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Drexel Engineers to Test their Building Skills in Regional Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge Competition

March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011 Drexel’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) will host more than 250 engineering students from regional schools in the 2011 ASCE Mid-Atlantic Student Conference on Drexel’s campus in Philadelphia, PA, April 15-17, 2011 for the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions. 

The Concrete Canoe competition is split into four different grading categories, each weighing at 25 percent of the final score. The categories are the design paper, the oral presentation, aesthetics and durability and the races. In the races, canoe teams will race head-to-head in sprints and endurance races with the winner achieving the best time in the specified distance. The conference competition held at Drexel this year will allow the winning team to compete in the national competition in Evansville, IN.

“Drexel is at the forefront of the competition due to our unique casting process. Other schools hand place their canoes taking up to approximately 100 man-hours in order to fully cast them. Drexel utilizes contemporary concrete practices by using an easier flowing concrete that allows us to pour and cast our canoes instead,” said Aga Sidarta, project manager for the concrete canoe team.

The Steel Bridge Competition offers another opportunity for Drexel students to challenge their building skills. At the conference, the bridge is first constructed in a time trial. All pieces have to be individually run by ‘runners’ 30 feet from the staging yard to the teammates who are ‘barges’ in the ‘river.’ The score is calculated by assigning monetary values to the number of runners and barges, the time to construct the bridge, the total weight of the bridge and the deflection of the bridge under a 2,500-pound load. Bridge aesthetics is used as a tiebreaker. The winner is the team with the lowest total cost. Two teams from the regional conference advance to the national conference which will be held this May at Texas A&M University.

“We have about 25 students on the steel bridge team this year and we’ve spent about 600 collective hours in the lab so far this term,” said Alex Stadel, captain of the steel bridge team.

“The rules this year call for a 22 foot long bridge with a 6 foot cantilever (a beam supported only on one end).  Our team has put over 1000 man-hours into fabricating the bridge. We owe our success to our sponsors at High Steel Structures, Inc., Pennoni Associates and Kiewit,” said Stadel.

The conference will feature additional events that include a networking social, industry tours and a critical issues panel. The ASCE Mid-Atlantic Student Conference is open to the public. For more information on the conference and the competitions, please visit the AEI website.