Category Archives: Environmental

PSWC 2015 Results

The results are in and one thing is clear — USC ASCE is now a dominant force in the ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference. A year after a shocking 3rd place overall rank at PSWC 2014, our biggest, strongest, most promising team in recent history has repeated with a 3rd place overall finish at PSWC 2015, hosted by the University of Arizona.

Ultimate Frisbee team with their 1st place award.
Ultimate Frisbee team with their 1st place award.

An overall placing at PSWC is no small feat. Over twenty events contribute to the overall composite score, and 18 universities vie for victory in each and every one. USC ASCE has records of placing third overall at PSWC only twice (2014, 1994) in our 91-year history, and we believe that we’ve never placed higher with this many schools in our conference. This is truly a special moment for our organization and our members.

Quiz/Family Feud Team with their 3rd place award.
Quiz/Family Feud Team with their 3rd place award.

Seven of our competition teams placed top-three and all events contributed to our overall finish. I’ll now break down the results for each of our eight design teams, followed by a summary of our placings in all of the smaller events.

Concrete Canoe

2015 Concrete Canoe Team Photo with our canoe, Jurassic
2015 Concrete Canoe Team Photo with our canoe, Jurassic

Last year’s concrete canoe team established itself as a solid contender with the 6th place finish of DiSCovery II, following a 14th place finish in 2013. This year, the team continued to improve with an even stronger canoe, Jurassic.

3rd Place in Concrete Canoe Design Paper!
3rd Place in Concrete Canoe Design Paper!

A new effort to better understand the structural analysis of concrete canoes contributed strongly to a repeat 3rd place finish in the design paper category, as well as a much-improved 6th place finish in oral presentation. While the smallest of omissions in the engineer’s notebook lead to a significant deduction in the final product category and our slightly modified hull design and logistical constraints with practicing lead to  lower placings in three races than last year, our women’s sprint team finished 4th and our women’s endurance team placed 6th. Overall, our team placed 5th with Jurassic, a one-place improvement over last year.

Steel Bridge

2015 Steel Bridge Team with their assembled bridge.
2015 Steel Bridge Team with their assembled bridge.

This year’s bridge team created an incredibly innovative design featuring a complex connection system that allowed the team to optimize cost, weight, and constructability. The design proved to be time consuming to fabricate, but our dedicated team pulled several consecutive all-nighters, including two in Tucson, to complete their bridge in time for the competition.

Despite only having time for two practice runs, the team put on an impressive show in the bridge assembly stage, highlighted by a novel technique of building most of the bridge over the “land” before swinging it around on a pivot to complete construction. The 14:46 assembly time is one of our best in recent memory. Unfortunately, during assembly, a single washer fell off from one of the members—the washers were used to bolt together the members, as per the competition rules. Because of this, the bridge did not meet the requirements and forced a disqualification. But it should be noted that many, many teams are disqualified from the steel bridge competition for various reasons (13 of the 17 universities at PSWC 2015, in fact), and that result does not diminish the quality of the product that our team produced. Our 2015 bridge is one of the best we’ve created and we’re excited to see what next year’s team will do to build on it.

Environmental

2015 USC Environmental Team with their water filtration system.
2015 USC Environmental Team with their water filtration system.

Our environmental team put on a strong showing this year with their water treatment system. They built an impressive structure to house the varying stages of systems and presented their results very professionally. The filtration system was reportedly successful in its initial results, pending further analysis by the judges. In the end, the team placed 8th, giving us a significant contribution to the overall point total and also leaving plenty of room to continue improving in future years.

Geowall

The 2015 Geowall team poses with their loaded box.
The 2015 Geowall team poses with their loaded box.

The Geotechnical Engineering competition this year proved to be a challenge for many participants. Teams built a three-sided retaining wall out of paper. Unfortunately our team’s wall was unable to  hold the weight of the sand when the box was opened due to a variety of factors. But the team put in a good effort, seen in aspects ranging from their strong presentation poster to their meticulously-designed Trojan-themed box. Looking to next year, the team is excited to see what they can do with the knowledge gained from this year’s efforts.

Surveying

2015 USC Surveying Team.
2015 USC Surveying Team.

For the first time in many years, our surveying team sought not only to learn enough to get by, but to actively learn various aspects of surveying to further both their individual abilities and the team’s success. Weekly practices throughout the semester and the help of a graduate advisor lead to a strong 6th place finish that contributed significantly to our overall 3rd place finish.

Dog House

The 2015 USC Dog House Team poses with their food-truck-themed dog house: "A Trip Around LA".
The 2015 USC Dog House Team poses with their food-truck-themed dog house: “A Trip Around LA”.

A new competition this year, the dog house team sought to build a creative and functional home for a deserving dog that featured a geographically relevant theme. Our result was a spacious wooden structure themed “A Trip Around LA”, featuring food trucks and the food truck culture that is evocative of Los Angeles. Making another significant contribution to the overall point total, our team finished in 6th place. After the competition, our dog house was donated to a local animal shelter, which will be auctioning it off as a fundraiser. We’re excited to have this opportunity to support the local Tucson community and create a new home for a special dog.

Concrete Bowling

The Concrete Bowling Team poses with their Spongebob-themed ball.
The Concrete Bowling Team poses with their Spongebob-themed ball.

While this year’s concrete bowling received a “participation” score, their perfectly-round “sponge-ball” was extremely well-executed and well-received. The team is already planning extensive efforts to better prepare themselves for next year now that they have a solid year to build off of.

Complete Scores

Our talent show team placed 3rd with a stunning rendition of "Something Big" featuring an original dance.
Our talent show team placed 3rd with a stunning rendition of “Something Big” featuring an original dance.

Our team competed in every event at PSWC 2015, and every point mattered in our 3rd place finish, winning by only 15 points. Four of this year’s teams placed 1st and three teams placed 3rd, the highest number of individual event awards in our recorded history.

Scavenger hunt captains with their 1st place award.
Scavenger hunt captains with their 1st place award.
Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.
Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.
Talent Show Team with their 3rd place award
Talent Show Team with their 3rd place award.
  • Concrete Canoe: 5th
    • Design Paper: 3rd (repeat)
  • Steel Bridge: DQ
  • Technical Paper: 1st
  • Geotech: participated
  • Environmental: 8th
  • Surveying: 6th
  • Dog House: 6th
  • Transportation: participated
  • Quiz/Family Feud: 3rd
  • Scavenger Hunt: 1st (repeat)
  • Concrete Bowling: participated
  • Mystery Event: 1st
  • Ultimate Frisbee: 1st
  • Basketball: participated
  • Soccer: participated
  • Talent Show: 3rd
  • Impromptu: participated
  • Kan Jam: participated
  • Tug of War: participated

Overall

Sylvia Tran, 2015 USC ASCE Technical Paper Author, with her 1st place award.
Sylvia Tran, 2015 USC ASCE Technical Paper Author, with her 1st place award.

I began this post with an explanation of our 3rd place overall finish. But I want to once again emphasize the importance of the contributions each and every one of our teams made. Every single point counts, and our team truly gave this conference their all, fighting through challenges ranging from limited time and budgets to broken noses in the basketball tournament. The shear effort put forth by our team represents a unbelievably solid commitment to our school, our chapter, and each other.

Celebration after placing 3rd overall at PSWC 2015.
Celebration after placing 3rd overall at PSWC 2015.
PSWC Co-chairs Lucy and Nick with USC ASCE President Winston and our *3rd place overall award.
PSWC Co-chairs Lucy and Nick with USC ASCE President Winston and our *3rd place overall award.

With such an amazingly successful year now complete, it’s hard to imagine what the future may hold. One of the most exciting parts of this year’s team is the number of underclassmen, including seven freshmen, we had. Only twelve seniors on this year’s team are graduating, and while they all played significant roles, we’re better prepared than ever to have younger members fill their shoes. With such a strong base of returning members, all eager to recruit others to join us as well, we can only imagine where we’ll be a year from now.

USC ASCE PSWC 2015 Team with all eight of our awards.
USC ASCE PSWC 2015 Team with all eight of our awards.

– Nick Halsey

USC ASCE 2014-2015 Sponsorship/Conference Co-chair

 

P.S. this is exactly my 100th post on this blog. The website and our club have come an amazingly long way since I first built this site in my freshman year (2013), and I’m excited to see where we go from here!

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 environemtnal@uscasce.com.

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.