Because Auburn students were busy planning the event, they were unable to focus as much on competing. Many people involved in planning were not allowed to compete. “Of the 29 people (from Auburn) that went to conference, only seven of them ever went to conference before,” McCormick said. McCormick said she was proud of how well Auburn did in the conference.
“We’ve got about 776 students attending this year,” said Sarah Alexander, senior in civil engineering. “There are 25 schools total this year, including Auburn.” Natalie McCormick, senior in civil engineering and president of the ASCE branch at Auburn, was one of the participants in the concrete canoe competition at the conference last week. On the first day of the conference, participants give formal presentations explaining the process of how the canoe was designed and created. McCormick said the design phase includes creating the mold, pouring the concrete and actually building the concrete boat. The canoes are then judged on display and aesthetics, McCormick said. “There are different ways you can design the concrete,” McCormick said.
While concrete does not normally float, lighter materials and more air pockets can be used to make the concrete float, McCormick said. McCormick’s canoe weighed about 175 pounds. On the second day, the canoes are pushed into the water and raced, all hoping the solidified skiff doesn’t take on water. “We will be in the concrete canoe paddling our little hearts out,” McCormick said the day before the race. This year the teams went to West Point Lake in Georgia to race, as there was no suitable place to hold this competition in Auburn. Canoe races included men’s and women’s endurance, sprint races, men’s and women’s heat (which involved two participants of the respective genders) and coed heat (which consists of two men and two women).
Another competition at the conference was the construction competition. “It’s a simulated project,” said Ralph Locurcio, a faculty adviser for Florida Tech’s team. Participants were divided into three groups: engineering designers, materials manufacturers and contractors. Projects had to be designed using specific materials. Participants were not told which materials would be used until the design part of the competition began. Communication was not allowed among team members of different groups to ensure all competitors would be on an even playing field. They allowed five questions to be asked by contractors and had runners to ask designers the questions, Locurcio said.
Alexander said the designs were judged on five categories, following all rules, difficulty of design, following design, aesthetics or visual appearance and creativity. Though Auburn students did not place in the concrete canoe or construction competitions, they did not go home without recognition. Auburn placed first in the transportation competition and third place in the professional paper, concrete beam and steel bridge stiffness categories.