Category Archives: Environmental

PSWC 2014 Day 1: Environmental Competiton

Our environmental team successfully completed their water treatment challenge to remove nitrate and phosphorus from a water sample, earning 5th place in a field of 15 schools.

Final PSWC 2014 Preparations

All of our design teams are busy with last-minute preparations for PSWC 2014. We’re off to San Diego tonight, excited to compete!

Environmental Design Team Update

This year our challenge is to design a cost-effective and sustainable process to remove phosphorous from liquid waste streams.  We will spend our time researching and designing phosphorous removal strategies.  For PSWC we need to build a treatment process and bring that and all other essential materials to the competition.  We will also have to write a paper that will explain our design and provide a cost assessment of the system.  We will also be trying to highlight sustainability in our design.  At PSWC our system will be tested and then there will be a ten minute presentation detailing how and why we designed our system.  The presentation team will consist of 6 members, but our design team as a whole will include anyone who is interested in helping out.

Last year's environmental team with their 1st place trophy
Last year’s environmental team with their 1st place trophy.

Last year our USC Environmental Design Team won First Place in our competition at PSWC. We need your help to continue our success at this year’s competition in San Diego!

We’ll be holding our first meeting after the PSWC info sessions in January, so look out for details in our weekly newsletters. If you’d like to be added to the Environmental Design Team’s mailing list, email

PSWC 2013 Summary

We’ve all recovered from PSWC 2013 (the ASCE Pacific Southwest Regional Conference) and are ready for a final summary. This year we co-hosted the conference, with most of the events taking place on the USC campus. Despite the added commitments of hosting, we were competitive in many events and made several improvements over last year.

Environmental Design Team

Our big win was our environmental team’s 1st Place finish! The team worked long hours and it paid off. Multiple design iterations, a large team, and excellent leadership enabled the group’s success. Since most of the team isn’t graduating yet, including the captains, we expect a strong showing for next year as well.

Our 2013 Environmental Design Team poses with their water distribution system at the PSWC Environmental Competition at Pardee Plaza on the USC Campus.

Our Environmental Design Team poses with their water distribution system at the PSWC 2013 Environmental Competition at Pardee Plaza on the USC Campus.

Concrete Canoe Team

Our Concrete Canoe made big improvements over our last several years’. For our seniors, this was the first time our canoe survived all the way until the final, coed race, when four people must race in the canoe at once. Naturally, our primary senior leaders celebrated our success by all racing together for the first time. Our final product was extremely buoyant and only faced minimal cracking issues (except during transportation). While we may not have had the prettiest canoe, it improved significantly over last year’s in aesthetics and we expect to improve further in coming years with the help of a larger team, better year-to-year knowledge transfer, and additional funding. A total of five schools were unable to race their canoes by midway through race day this year, so our solid (if heavy) canoe represents a huge accomplishment.

The 2013 Concrete Canoe Team poses with their USC-themed canoe, SC Traveler, after successfully finishing all five races at PSWC 2013.

The Concrete Canoe Team poses with their USC-themed canoe, SC Traveler, after successfully finishing all five races at PSWC 2013.
Photo © 2013 Lance Hill

Steel Bridge Team

The Steel Bridge Team also completed a successful final product at PSWC 2013. Our bridge team is also young this year and only one team member (our head captain) is graduating, so we’re expecting better and better bridges over the next few years. We hope to grow this team larger as well, which should help ensure that we have regular strong finishes for years to come.

The 2013 Steel Bridge Team poses with the assembled bridge after the PSWC 2013 competition, in front of Mudd Hall at Pardee Plaza on the USC campus. <br/>Photo © 2013 Lance Hill

The Steel Bridge Team poses with the assembled bridge after the PSWC 2013 competition, in front of Mudd Hall at Pardee Plaza on the USC campus.
Photo © 2013 Lance Hill

PSWC 2013 Rankings & Thanks

Overall, our conference rank for 2013 is 12th, a one-place improvement over last year, out of 18 competing schools. Detailed final scores and rankings information can be found here. But our biggest accomplishment is successfully co-hosting the conference. PSWC 2013 ran extremely smoothly thanks to the tireless work of our E-Board and PSWC planning committee, especially our Conference Co-Chairs Oscar and Theresa. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we put on an amazing conference, while still faring well in competition!

Environmental Design Team Takes First at PSWC 2013!

Our environmental design team just took first place in the environmental competition at the 2013 ASCE Pacific Southwest Regional Conference! This team put in long hours of practice and built multiple iterations of their water distribution system. The first place win is an excellent achievement, especially considering the caliber of the other 17 competing schools!

PSWC 2013 Day 1: Canoe & Bridge Aesthetics

The highlight of PSWC day 1 is the concrete canoe and steel bridge aesthetics competition. Since we’re hosting PSWC this year, the event took place at the heart of the USC campus, in Alumni Park. Various other events took place today, including the Environmental Design competition.

Last Minute PSWC Prep

Everyone’s finishing up last minute details for PSWC 2013, which starts tomorrow. Canoe team wrapped up aesthetics, our display board and engineer’s notebook. But—in a concrete canoe first—we had to make one last batch of concrete. But don’t worry, it was just to re-finish the cross section. It would never work to put new concrete on the canoe this late in the game. Steel bridge team finished up bridge painting and did their display board tonight. And the environmental team finished strategizing for their 8am Thursday competition, while other team members created the display board and other documentation. Meanwhile, our e-board finished orchestrating all of the logistics for the conference (since we’re hosting). Everything’s coming into place, and we’ll be back at it bright and early (in like 4 hours) to get everything for the first day of competition.


Design Team Prep for PSWC 2013 in Full Gear

As we approach the 2013 ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC), our design teams are all working hard to complete their projects. Since USC is co-hosting PSCW this year, each team is taking extra care to produce an exceptional final product. PSWC events will take place on the USC campus on Thursday April 4th and Saturday April 6th, check out the full schedule here. If you’re at USC, you won’t want to miss the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge Aesthetics Competition from 8am-5pm on Thursday at Alumni Park. Here’s an update on each design team’s progress.

Concrete Canoe

Gold Canoe Angle
Our concrete canoe has been stained USC Gold and is almost ready for PSWC.

This year’s canoe is named “SC Traveler.” We’ve worked on the canoe for several hours every night this week, and it’s paid off. Despite some major time setbacks with mold removal, we’re ahead of schedule thanks to multiple tasks completed faster than expected, and we finished applying the stain and sealant today. Canoe races are on Friday, at the Santa Fe Dam.

We took a break from the canoe to make a dumpster run.
We took a break from the canoe to make a dumpster run.

The canoe aesthetics are also nearing completion. We plan to add our team name to the canoe in cardinal lettering tomorrow. We’ll also finish up our display board, which features an original, USC-themed design.

Environmental Team

Environmental Team members assemble their final water-distribution system.
Environmental Team members assemble their final water-collection system.

The environmental design team worked on assembling their final water collection system last night. Their competition leads off the main PSWC design team events, occurring at Pardee Plaza from 8am-12pm. Our team looks solid and the competition should be exciting.

Steel Bridge

Thomas Welds Bridge Parts
Thomas Welds Bridge Parts

The steel bridge team is also putting in long hours and nearing completion. Once the bridge itself is done, the team will determine and practice the bridge assembly orchestration. As with canoe, the bridge team will create their display board and other finishing elements in the few days before competition as well. The 2013 PSWC Steel Bridge competition takes place on Saturday April 6th from 7am-4pm at Pardee Plaza at USC.

Other Miscellaneous PSWC News and Events

Concrete Horseshoe Curing
Concrete Horseshoe Curing

In other news, the concrete horseshoes and concrete bowling ball have been formed and are ready for competition. There are many other exciting events going on at PSWC, so you should check out the schedule for details.

Our USC ASCE E-Board is finalizing event coordination as well. Over 1,000 bottled waters and other snacks and beverages were wheeled through the design team area to the PSWC storage room today. Other E-Board members worked on finalizing the USC ASCE members’ PSWC event schedules. Overall, it’s shaping up to be an exciting conference and we’re all anxiously awaiting the competitions!