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!
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!
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!
We took last year’s (2014) concrete canoe, DiSCovery II, out for a spin this weekend as we finalize our training for the canoe races at PSWC 2015. While this year’s canoe (Jurassic) is slightly different, we chose to keep the design very similar so that we could explore improvements to our paddling technique rather than making drastic changes.
The day started out a bit rough when we realized that we ordered the wrong sized UHaul to take the canoe to the beach. Note for the future: concrete canoes typically require at least a 22′ UHaul; don’t try fitting a 19′ canoe into a 20′ UHaul (bed length ~17′).
Once we made it, we set up buoys and practiced in DiSCovery II alongside the regular (plastic) practice canoes that we borrow from Newport Aquatic Center. All of our race teams practiced together, trying new techniques and making adjustments as needed to get comfortable with paddling in a concrete canoe.
We were surprised to realize that our concrete canoe is capable of being paddled much more quickly than the real canes we usually practice with. Overall we had a great practice and are looking forward to PSWC in less than two weeks!
Here’s a video of our co-ed sprint heat from the canoe races at PSWC 2014, courtesy of captain Jake’s parents. This was the first heat we’ve won in years! Our team took advantage of DiSCovery II’s straight speed and their extensive preparation on their way to qualify for the small final. The coed race consists of two down-and-back laps for a total distance of 400 meters.
I’ll start off by putting this into perspective and context. Historically, USC ASCE typically places top-three in one or two events at PSWC. Our 18-school conference, combined with perennial powerhouses in the concrete canoe competition, make our conference one of the most competitive of the 15 in the country.
Last year, our only victory, albeit significant, was our first-place environmental win. This year, going into the awards banquet we didn’t expect much, but were proud of our collective effort.
We started out the awards banquet with a 1st place victory in the Scavenger Hunt competition. Despite having a team less than half the size of many other schools, our focus and determination led us to win one of the most fun events, finding cool spots and landmarks around SDSU’s campus and throughout San Diego.
Steel Bridge won 3rd place in construction speed, completing the construction of their bridge in roughly 18 minutes. They also won 3rd in bridge lightness. Our team ended up placing 3rd overall, earning an invitation to the AISC/ASCE National Steel Bridge Competition in Akron, OH!
Last year, our Concrete Canoe team had their first canoe to successfully survive every race in three years, but placed 14th overall. Despite deductions in the oral presentation and final product categories due to technicalities, the Concrete Canoe team placed 6th overall and won 3rd in design paper!
Our paddling team also did well, placing 7th overall. Highlights included our women’s slalom team placing sixth, our 4-person co-ed team winning their heat, and our men’s sprint team winning the small final by less than a second to place 6th, after missing the big final qualification by only a second.
Considering where we were just a year ago, and the fact that most of this year’s USC ASCE PSWC team were first-time attendees, all of these results are spectacular. But as we were celebrating our successes, we won an award that we never expected: 3rd place overall for the entire conference!
The overall conference rank is determined by summing all of the weighted points earned for each event, including canoe and bridge, the smaller design teams, and the sports tournaments. To win, a school must be well-rounded, participate in every event, and fight to win individual games, even if they don’t win entire sports tournaments. USC ASCE has not placed this high in the overall conference rank since 1994. Our 3rd place finish would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire team.
Here’s the event placement breakdown that led to our 3rd-place overall finish:
This year, we proved that just because we have a smaller department, fewer resources, and less manpower than other schools doesn’t mean that we can’t be successful. Let’s celebrate our victories, analyze our weaknesses, and come back next year ready to take 1st!
Race day was a blast! In addition to the canoe races, the volleyball tournament, impromptu, mystery event, and surveying competition were held today, all at Santa Fe Dam. And, all 1,000 conference participants were treated to Doc’s cooking for lunch.
Photos by Lance Hill and various USC ASCE members (sorry, too many to credit individually).