BYU's ASCE student chapter named most outstanding worldwide

The BYU student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has recently been named the most outstanding chapter worldwide.

On Sept. 4, Randall S. Over, president of ASCE, presented the Robert Ridgway Student Chapter Award to BYU civil engineering students and faculty during their weekly seminar. He also presented a check for $5,000 to BYU's ASCE student chapter. Professor Brett Borup and Sam Mineer, a senior in civil engineering, accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

"This is, in my opinion, the number one award in all of ASCE," Over said during the presentation. 

The Ridgway Award recognizes the single most outstanding student chapter of ASCE. The judging for this award is based on the students’ annual report which outlines the chapter’s activities from the previous year. Such activities include service projects, field trips, guest speakers, technical meetings, attending national conferences as well as any other activities that benefit students in ASCE.

This is the first time that BYU has won this award in 11 years. This will be the sixth occurrence in which BYU has won this award, the first of which dates back to 1973.

Brett Borup, faculty advisor for the BYU student chapter of ASCE and professor of civil and environmental engineering, believes that this win comes not only from the quantity of service activities performed by the students, but also the quality.

“Every year we do roughly 2,000 hours of community service,” said Borup. “One of our biggest activities is the balsa wood bridge competition for high school students.”

The balsa wood competition is an annual ASCE service project which gives high school students valuable learning experiences. BYU students in ASCE visit 13 high schools in central and northern Utah and instruct younger students on how to make a model bridge out of balsa wood.  The collected bridges are then put through a form of stress testing and awards are given to best constructed bridges.

“It introduces students to engineering, and it helps them, potentially, become interested in a career in engineering, or at least know what civil engineers do,” said Borup.

 While engineering related service activities are important and well respected among the judging members of ASCE, what helped the BYU chapter to stand out was its willingness to give service in any regard.

Sam Mineer, the BYU student chapter president during 2013, related how an opportunity to help a small clothes donation program turned into a rewarding service project. A student approached the chapter’s leadership about an opportunity to help donate clothes to kids in need in Mongolia.

“We helped to raise money, to help with the cost of getting boxes and supplies,” said Mineer. “Then in the [Clyde Building] step-down lounge we had a packing party and helped get tons of donated clothes packed and ready to go.”

According to Mineer, the student chapter will have a third opportunity to participate in this service project this year.

Both Mineer and Borup agree that the significance of this award cannot be understated. Not only does the Ridgway Award attract more involvement from students, but it also benefits those students who helped the chapter to win the award.

“The significance to the students is unbelievable,” said Mineer. “To say that we won the Ridgway award and that students can talk about how they were involved, is a great way to open up doors.”

Borup and Mineer will also be accepting this award in October at the ASCE Global engineering Conference in Panama City, Panama. More information regarding the BYU chapter of the ASCE can be found here, and information regarding the Robert Ridgway award can be found on the ASCE website

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