Congrats to the USC Team for scoring second place this year in the environmental engineering competition! As always, teams built a water filtration system to clean a contaminated sample.
All of our design teams are busy making final preparations for PSWC 2016. With less than a week before conference, the KAP basement is full of activity from everyone from steel bridge working on final fabrication and assembly, concrete canoe preparing the stands, section, and display table, geotech building their box, surveying practicing, and environmental finishing their system. We’re excited to showcase our work in Long Beach next week!
Even though the design prompt of environmental design will not released until early next year, we will stay in tune by holding 2 series of film screenings. We can learn and expand our understanding of environmental engineering from films covering environmental related issues. This will be an opportunity to get to know each other a little bit more, and have fun!
Our first film screening will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 28th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The film Cowspiracy is described as “the most important film made to inspire saving the planet.” Please join us next Wednesday to learn, make friends, and have fun. Snacks will be available as well!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
– 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!
The environmental team created a water filter for their competition. They gave a formal presentation and then tested their filter in removing specific chemicals from a given sample of water.
The environmental team is hard at work brainstorming their strategy for the 2015 PSWC competition!
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.
All of our design teams are busy with last-minute preparations for PSWC 2014. We’re off to San Diego tonight, excited to compete!
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.