BYU hosts regional civil engineering conference

  Brigham Young University hosted The Rocky Mountain Regional Conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers from April 2 -4, 2009.

More than 330 civil engineering students from 13 colleges and universities across the region attended the event.

While in Provo, the students competed in a number of challenges, testing their engineering mettle, creativity, and their ability to work as a team.

"Everyone had a lot of fun with the events and we saw some very good competition," said BYU civil engineering student Bryan Martinez, who helped to coordinate the conference.

BYU's students fared well in the competitions, earning first place in both the technical and non-technical papers and placing fourth overall.

Don't let the academic papers fool you, this was not just a classroom-learning conference, it was full of hands-on engineering challenges.

Competitions included a seemingly-impossible “concrete canoe” challenge. Students designed and built modified-concrete canoes with hopes of racing them around Utah Lake. Sadly, the weather proved uncooperative, and the race had to be cancelled.

However, "students still braved frigid temperatures and high winds to wade into the lake and swamp test their canoes," said Grant Farnsworth, this year's student conference coordinator.

BYU took third in the canoe competition, but regained ground by winning first place in the “can-struction” competition. BYU's project, a model of London's " Big Ben," was built entirely from canned foods. The canned goods used in the competitions were donated to local food banks; in all more than 3,000 cans were donated.

It may seem like a lot of fun, and the participants certainly enjoyed themselves; however, the underlying benefit of all their hard work was not overlooked by the students.

"In my experience, these kinds of extracurricular activities can earn you a lot of respect from potential employers,” Farnsworth said. "When you go in to apply for a job it gives you some common ground with the professionals because they remember having worked on similar projects while they were students."

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