Early April, the University of Utah Student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers proudly hosted the annual Rocky Mountain Regional Student Conference. Faculty advisor, Dr. Christine Pomeroy and student conference chair, Jenny Calderon, organized a planning team of six exceptional University of Utah students to help plan every aspect of the event, including fundraising, organization, venue rental, catering, coordination, communication, and many other aspects, large and small. The planning team students were Treven Edwards (steel bridge chair), James Holt (concrete canoe chair), Heather Christensen (fundraising / sustainability coordinator), Gemma Clark (Awards Banquet Coordinator), Korey Walsh (fundraising), and Caity Neilsen (events coordinator).
The ASCE conference brought together fourteen region schools in Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Nearly 400 of the most creative and dedicated students from our region came out to compete in engineering competitions throughout the weekend, culminating in an awards banquet to honor their successes.
The opening reception was held at the incomparable Rice Eccles Stadium Tower Scholarship room. This beautiful space overlooks the entire city and campus. During the reception students competed in a mystery design competition challenging each school to build the tallest pasta tower that could support a mock green roof (sponge) when fully saturated.
The crowning event was the steel bridge build. This competition challenges student teams with a real world problem and requires them to design and build a scaled down bridge that meets the design specifications. Each team must build a bridge which strikes a balance between cost, strength, weight, and aesthetic appeal. These are evaluated by an aesthetic evaluation, the number of members on the build team, efficiency and time required to build, and deflection measured when supporting predetermined gravity and lateral point loads.
Concrete canoe races were held at Utah Lake’s Lindon Marina. There students used their concrete canoes to compete in a variety of sprints and endurance races. That evening the winning teams in each category were honored at the awards banquet, held at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. In addition to the many award categories, the scores from all events were tallied and the overall conference award went to next year’s host school, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Design engineers are challenged every day to balance form, function, efficiency, sustainability, and cost. The planning team considered sustainability an important aspect to draw attention to and incorporated it in as many ways as possible. The team worked tirelessly to secure the funding necessary to incorporate this focus into the conference. These efforts ensured recycled paper for all printed materials, biodegradable name badge holders, recycling bins at every event, an organized service project at Red Butte Garden, and even a mystery design competition with a nod to sustainability and green infrastructure.