PSWC 2016 Results

Once again, USC ASCE has done the unthinkable. For the third straight year, USC placed 3rd overall in the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) of ASCE.

The overall conference score is a composite of all 18 events held at PSWC. With 18 schools competing, placing overall requires participation and success in every event, and each individual competition contributes to the overall success of the team. Our broad efforts to compete against much larger teams in each and every event paid off this year despite only placing top-three in a few events.

USC Quiz/Jeopardy Team with their 1st place award.
USC Quiz/Jeopardy Team with their 1st place award.

This year’s success was led by first place finishes in Technical Paper, Mystery Event, and Quiz/Jeopardy, as well as 2nd place in Environmental. With around 40 student attendees, USC’s team was among the smallest at PSWC 2016, where 1300 attendees set a record for attendance at any ASCE event. Yet the strength of our members across all disciplines enabled an historic result from the competition.

USC Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.
USC Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.

When USC placed 3rd overall at PSWC 2014, most of us didn’t even know about the overall conference award. Historical research found that we had previously placed 3rd overall in 1994. But repeating the 3rd place finish in 2015 and now three-peating it is an unprecedented measure of our chapter’s growth and continued strength as a competitor at PSWC. As I said last year, there is no doubt that USC ASCE is now a dominant force in the ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference. Here’s a breakdown of each team’s contributions to this year’s competition.

Technical Paper

2016 USC Technical Paper author Justine Lee with her 1st place award.
2016 USC Technical Paper author Justine Lee with her 1st place award.

Environmental Design Team Co-captain Justine Lee authored our 2016 Technical Paper submission, on the topic of international codes and standards for engineering projects. In addition to writing an outstanding essay, Justine delivered a phenomenal presentation at PSWC, responding to questions with detailed answers that further supported her strategic approach to reconciling global engineering codes and standards. Justine brought USC our second-straight 1st place finish in tech paper, which was also submitted to the national competition. Check out her winning paper here:

2016 TECHINCAL PAPER — A Strategic Approach to Reconciling Global Engineering Codes and Standards

Environmental Design Team

2016 USC Environmental Design Team
2016 USC Environmental Design Team

Working in the lab to test a variety of approaches to this year’s water contaminant filtering problem, our team was joined by several graduate students who contributed their technical expertise. After countless hours of hard work, the team placed 2nd overall, our best result since winning 1st in 2013.

Concrete Canoe

2016 USC Concrete Canoe Team with That '70s Canoe
2016 USC Concrete Canoe Team with That ’70s Canoe

This year’s concrete canoe worked tirelessly to develop a new lightweight composite slab assembly to reduce the weight of the canoe and improve its paddling performance, while simultaneously developing a bright and colorful design that embraced the use of integrally-colored concrete. For the first time, our team felt confident that the canoe was built precisely to the engineered specifications developed during the design phase. Unfortunately, our investigations failed to consider a failure mode in punching shear, which occurred in the concrete during the races, requiring the use of tape and a sizable point deduction. Despite this, we had our strongest race performance yet placing 6th in both endurance events, 7th in coed sprint, 8th in men’s sprint, and 10th in women’s sprint. Our design paper placed 5th despite a deduction on a technicality. Overall canoe placed 8th out of 17 universities this year, but our team is confident that our process and final result are the best in our recent history.

Steel Bridge

2016 USC Steel Bridge Team with their Bridge
2016 USC Steel Bridge Team with their Bridge

The Steel Bridge team designed an extremely innovative lightweight bridge this year, even while building a new team that was primarily composed of new members. As can often happen with the steel bridge competition, this year’s bridge was disqualified for a minor detail – exceeding the maximum allowed width at the top of the upper truss due to construction variances. However, the bridge continued our development of increasingly more innovative designs and the team hopes to continue this success next year.

Geowall

2016 USC Geowall team with their wall successfully holding sand in the box.
2016 USC Geowall team with their wall successfully holding sand in the box.

The Geowall competition included a new component this year – wood detailing to build a load frame that could be disassembled into small pieces. Our team build a clever frame with slotted wood peg connections, but unfortunately the frame failed when loaded. However, the team’s reinforced paper wall held the weight of the fully-loaded box, as well as hundreds of pounds of additional weight loaded vertically above it. Next year’s team is already planning new ideas to ensure an even more successful result next year.

Complete Scores

  • Concrete Canoe: 8th
  • Steel Bridge: DQ
  • Tech Paper: 1st
  • Geowall: Participated
  • Environmental: 2nd
  • Surveying: 5th
  • Impromptu: Participated
  • Mystery: 1st
  • Jeopardy: 1st
  • Basketball: T5th
  • Volleyball: Participated
  • Frisbee: Participated
  • Tug of War: Paticipated
  • Kan Jam: Participated
  • Scavenger Hunt: 8th
  • Concrete Bowling: Participated
  • Transportation: Participated
  • Community Service (Coin Drive): T1st (Participated)

The complete point breakdown can be found here (archived for historical purposes due to past loss of records from host schools). With another successful year behind us, we’re already looking forward to PSWC 2017 hosted by UC Irvine!

USC Environmental Design Team with their 2nd place award.
USC Environmental Design Team with their 2nd place award.