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November 03, 2016

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Concrete canoe, steel bridge teams win big

SIU engineering students made history in April, winning the top spot in two regional competitions aimed at testing their abilities and creativity as up-and-coming engineers. 

The SIU teams took first place in both the steel bridge and concrete canoe design competitions, held April 22-23 at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. It is the first time the SIU teams have both won first place in the two competitions. The American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors the event; the American Institute of Steel Construction co-sponsored the steel bridge contest, as well. 

Sanjeev Kumar, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at SIU, said the students on both teams worked extremely hard. 

“Participating in these competitions is not only good for us to get great visibility at the national and even international stage, it helps our students learn skills that are not taught in a classroom,” Kumar said. “Winning these competitions, of course, gives us bragging rights. But more importantly it shows that our students are prepared and ready to handle real-world challenges.” 

Kumar said the accomplishments will help students greatly when they graduate and enter the workforce in the competitive engineering field. 

“Employers in the civil and environmental engineering arena look for students who are leaders, which is exactly what these competitions prepare them to be,” Kumar said. “I am proud of what our students have accomplished. Everyone associated with civil engineering at SIU is excited.” 

The win vaulted the teams to the national competitions where they had a successful showing but did not place. Team leaders, however, said the experience will help the in spring 2017, when they compete once again.

In the steel bridge contest, the team starts each year by researching possible designs and types of steel for their bridge, looking at factors such as deflection, stress and bending moments to create the best bridge possible. The team then researches, designs and fabricates a scaled simulation of a steel bridge before the competition. During the contest, the team must build the entire bridge from the ground up while considering display, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, construction economy, structural efficiency and overall performance.  

William Eichfeld, professor of civil and environmental engineering at SIU and faculty adviser to the teams, said hard work made the difference. 

“We are all very happy and these students worked so hard on this,” Eichfeld said. “This group in particular really had an organization and really stuck to it and remained very focused on the details. And I think they really enjoyed what they were doing.” 

In the steel bridge competition the SIU team cleaned up, winning top marks in bridge stiffness, lightness, economy, efficiency and display. The team also took third place in the construction time contest. 

Mansor Sufran, senior in civil engineering from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and captain of the team, said the win was especially sweet as it marked the first time in 10 years a bridge team advanced to the national competition. 

“So the victory is a big thing for the team and the college,” he said. 

Building a canoe out of a heavy material such as concrete is an obvious engineering challenge for the canoe team. To do so, teams must experiment with different types of concrete mixes and designs. Judges rate canoes based on appearance, aesthetic qualities, speed and other characteristics.  

To win first place overall, the SIU concrete canoe team competed in such events as the design report, oral presentation and aesthetics, as well as racing the canoe in men’s, women’s and co-ed endurance and sprint competitions. 

Also as part of the canoe contest, Jacob Palmer, from Washington, Ill., placed third in the technical paper presentation. His paper addressed the question on an engineering ethics topic: “When working in a foreign location, what defines the design standard which the engineer can rely on to have met his or her ethical obligation to provide a safe and sound engineering solution or design?” 

Members of the concrete canoe team included:

Illinois

Antioch

Christian Peterson, junior in forestry

Bloomington

Joseph Dewerff, sophomore in civil engineering

Carlyle

Nicole Hanke, senior in civil engineering

Chrisman

Dana Mitchell, junior in computer engineering

Danville

Carrie Zillman, senior in civil engineering

Dieterich

Alex Kreke, senior in civil engineering

Evergreen Park

Arno Blazys, senior in civil engineering

Herrin

Mark Sutton, senior in civil engineering

Kankakee

Alyssa Davis, senior in civil engineering

Mulberry Grove

Emily Peterson, senior in civil engineering

Nashville

Jordan Dalaviras, senior in civil engineering

Odell

Cody Bauer, senior in civil engineering

Ottawa

Jessica Wignes, sophomore in civil engineering

Plainfield

Marissa Campobasso, freshman in civil engineering

Sigel

Travis Walk, senior in civil engineering

Teutopolis

Tyler Windel, senior in mechanical engineering

Brandon Hemmen, senior in civil engineering

Waterloo

Colton Miskell, junior in civil engineering

Mississippi

Horn Lake

Emily Waldon, junior in civil engineering and team captain

Missouri

California

Addison Jobe, graduate student in civil engineering

Kansas

Overland Park

Mardi Buchanan, senior in civil engineering

International

Daniel Lee, a sophomore in civil engineering from Tawau, Malaysia

Members of the steel bridge team, their year and major at SIU, and hometowns included:

Illinois

Bensenville

Johnathan Stitgen, senior in civil engineering

Chicago

Thomas Fitzpatrick, senior in civil engineering

Effingham

Dillon Ruholl, junior in civil engineering

Grand Ridge

Alexis Bower, sophomore in civil engineering

Le Roy

Erik Woelfle, junior in civil engineering

Mount Prospect

Jacob Brown, junior in civil engineering

Jimmy Schumann, junior in civil engineering

New Lenox

Patrick O’Sullivan, junior in civil engineering

Robinson

Nicholas Berty, junior in civil engineering

Tamms

Austin Caldwell, senior in civil engineering

Vergennes

Jared Linze, senior in civil engineering

Warrenville

Philip Williams, junior in civil engineering  

Missouri

Cape Girardeau

Elijah Greer, sophomore in civil engineering

International

Mansor Sufran, senior in civil engineering from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia