Civil students win it all at regional conference

April 29, 2013

L-R: Andy Odenthal, Sarah Grace Smith and Andrew Sensing

L-R: Andy Odenthal, Sarah Grace Smith and Andrew Sensing

STARKVILLE, Miss –Mississippi State’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers brought home top honors overall and several individual competition awards from a recent regional conference.

Hosted by Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., the three-day ASCE Deep South Conference asked students from 14 schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas to compete in five engineering competitions.

In addition to the top school overall honor, Mississippi State won the concrete canoe and technical paper competitions. Its teams placed second and third in the quiz bowl and steel bridge competitions, respectively. The surveying team placed fourth.

The canoe team will advance to the national competition in June. Its boat, named “Dawgy Paddle,” features an underwater theme including a hand-painted seascape with a snorkel-equipped Bully and other sea creatures.

Seniors Andy Odenthal and Sarah Smith served as co-captains of the concrete canoe team. They explained that the conference competitions test the students’ abilities and subject-area knowledge.

“These competitions are a practical application of what we learn in class,” explained Odenthal.

Smith added, “We all had to learn time management, leadership, communication skills, and how to take ownership of a project and see it through to the end.”

For the canoe competition, the team had to develop a concrete mixture and boat design that would maintain its buoyancy with as many as four students on board.

“Typical concrete mixes use rocks and sand, but we used hollow glass beads to make our mixture less dense than water” Odenthal explained. “We then used Styrofoam to mold the concrete and later to transport the canoe safely to competition.”

MMC Materials of Starkville, provided materials and facilities for the project.

The canoe team was judged on its technical paper and oral presentation, as well as the appearance and durability of the final product. The canoes were then tested in a series of men’s, women’s and co-ed races. Mississippi State placed first in the co-ed sprint and second in the men’s endurance race.

Odenthal also won the Daniel W. Meade Contest, for his paper “Body of Knowledge—Is it Ethical to Associate Credentials with Credibility” which he presented to the judges at the conference. This was his second consecutive win in the competition.

The steel bridge team, led by captain Drew Sensing, designed, fabricated and constructed a scale model of a bridge. Each team’s plan was judged for construction speed, costs, lightness, efficiency and stiffness. In addition to finishing third overall, MSU’s entry ranked first in stiffness and third in efficiency.

As a “mystery event,” the conference hosted a quiz bowl competition to test students’ readiness for the industry-standard fundamentals of engineering exam. Schools weren’t told of the event until the conference began and had to quickly form teams of students who weren’t already busy with other competitions. A team of three juniors and one senior earned second place for Mississippi State.

The ASCE Deep South Conference is one of 18 regional student conferences sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers each spring.

More than 50 students from the Mississippi State chapter assisted with each project during the year. Conference participants include (by hometown):

ARLINGTON, Tenn. – Junior civil engineering major Matthew Roddy is part of the steel bridge team.

BOONEVILLE—Rob Garner, a sophomore in civil engineering, is a member of the steel bridge team.

CARTHAGE—Senior civil engineering majors Austin Byrd and Trevor Langston are members of the surveying team.

CONEHATTA—Steel bridge team member Hayden Weaver is a senior in civil engineering.

GRENADA—A senior in civil engineering, Brent Ashmore is a member of the steel bridge team. Recently elected president of MSU’s ASCE chapter, Michael Littrell, a senior in civil engineering, participated in the quiz bowl and is a member of the concrete canoe team.

GULFPORT—Junior civil engineering major Katye Miller, who was recently elected vice president of MSU’s ASCE chapter, is a member of the concrete canoe team. She also participated in the quiz bowl event.

HATTIESBURG– Michael Sanders, a senior in civil engineering, is a member of the steel bridge team.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Sarah Smith is a senior in civil engineering. She serves as co-captain of the concrete canoe team.

JACKSON– Steel bridge team member Donovan Middlebrook is a sophomore in civil engineering.

LELAND—Parker Livingston, a senior civil engineering major, is a member of the concrete canoe team.

MADISON – Senior civil engineering major Drew Sensing serves as captain of the steel bridge project. Mariel Colman and Stephanie Sigman, also seniors in civil engineering, are members of the concrete canoe team.

MCCOMB— A senior in civil engineering, Travis Mauthe is part of the surveying team.

MERIDIAN—Colby Shumate, a senior in civil engineering, is part of the concrete canoe team.

MUNFORD, Tenn. – Taylor Smith, a junior in civil engineering, is a member of the steel bridge team.

STARKVILLE—Landon Byars, a surveying team member, is a senior in civil engineering.

STAYTON, Ore. – Andy Odenthal is a senior in civil engineering. In addition to serving as co-captain of the concrete canoe team, he also placed first in the Meade Technical Paper competition.

TUPELO – Senior civil engineering major Rachael Ivancic participated in the quiz bowl competition and is a member of the concrete canoe team.

WIGGINS – Clinton Carlisle, a senior in civil engineering, is a member of the steel bridge team.