WSCL 2016

Sunrise in Anchorage (about 10:30 AM)

Last weekend, nine Trojans found themselves on a red-eye flight to Anchorage, Alaska for an amazing experience. Interestingly, four of the members were freshmen.

ASCE’s WSCL, or Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders, is an annual conference geared towards improving student chapters and creating better student officers. This conference is held alongside the Workshop for Section and Branch Leaders (WSBL)  and the Younger Member Council Meeting (YMC). In addition to presenting better ways to run a student chapter of ASCE with useful tips and workshops, the conference also provided many opportunities to network with Younger Members and Section and Branch Leaders within the civil engineering field.

Tyler and Spencer in the Chart Room
Tyler and Spencer in the Chart Room

After arriving early Friday morning, we tried to get what sleep we could before the busy day ahead of us began.  The day started “bright and early” at 9:00 AM (it was still dark) with a warm welcome from Shane Binder from the Committee of Student Members. After spending a few hours listening to speakers upstairs in the chart room , it was time for us ourselves to speak. Up next was the first round of breakout sessions.  These open discussions included topics like community outreach, financial management, and member recruitment.  The sessions were particularly helpful because it provided the opportunity for other schools to give insight and solutions to a problem that your chapter may be having and vice versa.

Following the breakout sessions came lunch where we had section and branch leaders sprinkled throughout the ballroom. I had quite an engaging conversation with a recently retired transportation engineer who did plenty of work in Orange County and even contributed to the Hyperloop project. During the second half of lunch, we were entertained by a special speaker: Norma Jean Mattei, the future president of ASCE and current president-elect. In addition, for the first time in ASCE’s 164 year history, the two upcoming official 2017 president-elect nominees for ASCE will be women.

Interesting discussion taking place in the Region 9 breakout session
Interesting discussion taking place in the Region 9 breakout session

Once lunch was over, we separated into specific region breakout sessions where we addressed possible solutions to various civil engineering and sustainability problems.  Since the session was region and section specific, this portion of the conference also gave us the chance to meet some of our Younger Members and other students from the Los Angeles area. Something that was introduced in this meeting was ASCE’s new movie Dream Big, coming to theaters in 2017. It is a movie designed to bring awareness to the world of engineering.

Next came another set of student breakout sessions, this time geared toward problems student chapters faced. We concluded the evening with a Q&A segment from ASCE heads, and finally ended with conversations with Alaskan job recruiters. Once the evening session was adjourned, we were free to seek out Alaskan cuisine.

Later that night, we attempted to find dinner, and we ended up pretty much exploring downtown Anchorage. Spencer and I stumbled upon Town Square Park which happened to have a plethora of unique ice sculptures. We ended up eating at Fat Ptarmigan, a restaurant that served wood oven fired pizza with countless toppings. The most interesting of them all was the one that included reindeer sausage. That was a first, and it was quite delicious.

Ice sculptures at Anchorage's Town Square Park
Ice sculptures at Anchorage’s Town Square Park

The following morning, we had breakfast with a presentation from Blaine Leonard, the 2010 ASCE president, who presented his Generational Differences slide show. I found it interesting that we live in a time where the workforce is comprised of four different generations with varying values and ideals. WSCL concluded back in the chart room with discussion about upcoming conferences and the location of next year’s WSCL, which will be located right here in Los Angeles.

WSCL group
WSCL group

Despite the six hours of daily sunlight, we definitely made the most of the trip. After the conference was officially over, we did the classic tourist thing: we searched for the perfect picture spots and explored Alaska’s gift shops. Probably the most exciting (and terrifying) thing for a few of us was the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Alaska the day half of us left. Those that remained were safe, and the experience was a reminder that demonstrated just what civil engineers set out to achieve.

Sunset in Anchorage (about 4:15 PM)
Sunset in Anchorage (about 4:15 PM)

Concrete Canoe December 2015 Update

The first half of Concrete Canoe 2015-2016 is officially over! We’re really excited about all of the new members that got involved this semester, and can proudly say that we poured our practice canoe! We spent the first Saturday after classes ended working hard in the KAP basement to mix, pigment, and place concrete to create a full-scale practice canoe. With all of the rule changes and new ideas we’re trying this year, we wanted to practice some techniques before pouring the real canoe for competition! Not to mention, the practice canoe will give our paddlers a great chance to paddle in the canoe they’ll be racing in just 3 short months at PSWC. We had a group of great people helping out at practice pour day (warmest thanks to those who showed up!), and we’re all super excited to see what our colored concrete looks like once we de-mold the canoe when we get back to school in January!

Overall, it has been a great semester full of great ideas and great people, and we’re looking forward to see what next semester has in store for us!

Erin Yamashita
USC ASCE Concrete Canoe Captain

Steel Bridge December 2015 Update

It’s been a long and tedious semester for everyone, but Steel Bridge doesn’t stop just because projects and exams pop up! We’ve got our design finalized, our steel bought, and our members know all the ins and outs of working with the machines.

Steel Bridge 2015

Although we didn’t get a chance to do much fabrication this semester, it was great having all of our dedicated members come out every week! It’s definitely dirty work cutting and welding steel, but the Steel Bridge team is totally prepared for next semester. Once January rolls around we’ll be cranking out our 20-ft bridge, and getting ready for the competition in Long Beach!

Jessica Maass
USC ASCE Steel Bridge Captain 2015

Steel Bridge 2015

Structural Focus Guest Speaker Visits ASCE

As part of ASCE’s Professional Speaker Series, last week Samuel Mengelkoch from Structural Focus came out to ASCE and gave us a presentation on his experience in the structural engineering field and about some projects he has worked on in his career.


He gave out good advice for those interested in the field of structural engineering and showed that it can be more than just designing steel trusses. Namely, he showed us a renovation project his company is working on somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, where they are taking an old fabric manufacturing factory built in the early 20th century and renovating it into a shopping destination with a vast commercial space.  He described the challenges of earthquake-proofing a building that had been built before earthquake standards, and had not been designed for lateral loads. He really showed how the role of the structural engineer plays out both in shaping the design of the structure, as well as during construction where he worked directly with construction teams.

With so many disciplines of civil and environmental engineering these days, it was really great to hear about one that can really hold up to the competition.

Thank you Samuel!


Registration is now open for USC ASCE members to attend PSWC 2016! The Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) brings together over 1000 civil and environmental engineering students for a plethora of competitions, ranging from concrete canoe and steel bridge to environmental design, sports, and more. USC ASCE members can register for the conference and find all details here.

Here’s a quick summary of the conference timeline and registration costs:

  • December 4th – Priority Registration Deadline (For the reduced payment of $90)
  • January 29th – final registration deadline
  • January 30th – Concrete canoe pour day (Attendance is mandatory)
  • Martch 31st – April 2nd – PSWC 2016

Priority Registration – $90

  • Friday, December 4, 2015
  • Three-payment option available
    • Check (made out to USC ASCE)
    • Cash (Dropped off in our mailbox in KAP 213)
    • Venmo:
      • @Marissa-Knutson
      • Title: “ASCE PSWC 2016 Dues”

Final – $120

  • Friday, January 29, 2016
  • All payments due in full

You MUST become a member of USC ASCE and ASCE nationals before registering for PSWC!  Once you fill out the registration form, you can submit payments to our box in KAP 213 OR give to an E-Board member.

We’re looking forward to an awesome conference and to defending our 3rd place overall finish from last year! Email if you have any questions.

Wilson Mikami Corporation: Newest “Gold” Sponsor!

We are very excited to announce that Wilson Mikami Corporation has become a “Gold” sponsor of USC ASCE for 2015-2016 with their donation of $2000! Wilson Mikami Corporation has been a leading consulting engineering firm in Southern California over the past 10 years. They offer a complete range of civil engineering services consisting of master planned communities, subdivisions, commercial and industrial sites, major infrastructure design, electric utility civil engineering design, parks and recreational facilities site design, school and institutional facility design, facility planning and design, and land surveying, mapping and construction survey staking. Their sponsorship will provide funding necessary to support our concrete canoe and steel bridge design teams as we prepare for PSWC 2016. Thank you, Wilson Mikami Corporation!


PSWC in November? That’s right! This past Sunday November 15, a group of USC ASCE members packed up a U-Haul with past concrete bowling balls, life vests, paddles, and our trusty 2014 canoe, Discovery II. Then it was off to Mother’s Beach in Long Beach for Mini PSWC to meet up with UCLA, CSULB, and Cal Poly Pomona for some friendly competition and canoe paddling practice.

Our paddlers got some great practice working on speed and turns in our concrete canoe out on the water. We got to try out different team combinations and see how well everyone paddled together. It was a great opportunity to see how weekly Sunday paddling practices have been paying off! Despite the wind and choppy waters, our teams looked great out there!

Our co-ed practice team gets ready for a race!
Our co-ed practice team gets ready for a race!

Besides paddling, members from all schools got together for some ultimate frisbee games, concrete bowling, volleyball practice, and even started up an egg toss competition!

Members from the Los Angeles Younger Member’s forum (LAYMF) came out to the event to check it out, show support, and provided an impromptu competition. Teams of four were required to create the tallest structure they could out of a box of straws and a roll of scotch tape that could support an egg at the top. Despite some leaning structures, the end results were pretty impressive!

2nd place team in the impromptu competition put on by LAYMF!
2nd place team in the impromptu competition put on by LAYMF!
The team worked hard to make their structure stand in the strong winds!
The team worked hard to make their structure stand in the strong winds!

Mini PSWC was a great time to get to know members from other schools as well as to get a feel for what PSWC will be like come spring. Although it was the first Mini PSWC that has ever been organized it will definitely not be the last! After getting a taste  of competition and team spirit we are beyond excited for PSWC 2016!

Mock Interviews with ASCE LA YMF

With the career fair a couple of weeks behind us and our resumes submitted to recruiters, the next step to getting that dream job or internship is the interview. Three guests from the Los Angeles Younger Members Forum (LA YMF) dropped by on Thursday night to give us some tips!

We began the night with a presentation by LA YMF President Phil Davies discussing some general hints for acing the interview, and then received a list of commonly asked interview questions that will definitely come in handy during our interview preparations. Our guest interviewers then split up into three separate rooms, and every USC ASCE member got a chance to have a one-on-one mock interview.
Overall, the event was extremely helpful; we will definitely be using everything we learned in our upcoming interviews! We would like to extend a huge thank you to the LA YMF members that took time out of their busy schedules to come out and help us!

2015-2016 Second General Meeting Recap

This past Thursday, September 22nd marked USC ASCE’s second general meeting for the school year.  Food was catered by Chick-Fil-A, featuring yummy chicken strips, chicken salad, and fruit salad for everyone to enjoy. The meeting highlighted several of our recent past events, including a plan reading workshop, internship panel, job walk, resume workshop, and meeting with ASCE Region 9 Director Jay Higgins. The eight representatives who attended the ASCE 2015 Convention in New York City were also able to share their experiences with other members.

Details for the 2016 Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) were revealed to the general membership. Design team captains gave updates on their progress, and the PSWC coordinators introduced the official list of secondary competitions. The general USC ASCE t-shirts for 2015-2016, which will be worn at PSWC 2016, was debuted to the membership. The front  of the shirt features the new USC ASCE logo, while the back of the shirt features a cityscape graphic with the motto “bridging the gap between engineering and friendship.”

For anyone who was not able to attend or would like to revisit the presentation, please click the following link:
USC ASCE 2nd General Meeting 2015-16



American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter at the University of Southern California

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