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Civil engineering students host, compete in regional conference that draws hundreds

Elisabeth Weems | Apr 16, 2018

Civil engineering students host, compete in regional conference that draws hundreds

Elisabeth Weems | Apr 16, 2018

A few April showers didn’t stop civil engineering students from competing in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2018 Ohio Valley Student Conference, an event they also hosted, from Thurs.-Sat., April 12-14.

The annual competition drew more than 350 civil engineering students and professionals from 15 schools around Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylania, to showcase their civil engineering skills beyond the classroom.

Contests included the steel bridge competition, for which students designed, constructed, and tested a bridge made of steel; the concrete canoe competition, involving designing and fabricating a canoe from lightweight concrete, and racing it along Lake Snowden; and an environmental competition, involving the design and construction of a water treatment system to remove contaminants from a water sample.OHIO students won third place in the technical paper contest.

Civil engineering senior Amanda Sedlock, who was OVSC planning head, said that convening student and professional engineers from around the region, to create and compete gave OHIO an opportunity to open its campus to visitors.

"It means a lot for OHIO to host this event – it’s a huge event for all civil engineering students, and OHIO has never had the chance to host something like it. We were excited to show the different schools what OHIO and its campus is all about,” Sedlock said.

Competitions were held in Stocker Center, the Academic and Research Center, the OHIO Golf and Tennis Center, and Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio.

Andrea Horn, BSCE ’17, a current civil engineering graduate student who was OHIO’s ASCE chapter secretary in 2016, used her three years of concrete canoe competition experience to help lead this year’s team. She said participating in OVSC has strengthened her ability to work on a team, which is vital in engineering.

“OVSC has played a huge role in shaping my engineering career,” Horn said. “Engineering is a field where you are never going to be solely responsible to get a job done; you are constantly working with others.”

Youngstown State University (YSU) junior civil engineering student Thomas Carnes, captain of YSU’s concrete canoe and steel bridge teams, said OVSC has provided him with valuable interview connections.

“In every interview I've ever had, someone there had competed in the steel bridge or concrete canoe competition, so that's a connection to get your foot in the door,” Carnes said.

Deb McAvoy, associate dean for academics, associate professor of civil engineering, and interim chair of the Department of Aviation, said OVSC empowers students to learn from their failures – when the University of Pittsburgh’s concrete canoe broke during the competition, the team persevered – and demonstrate their abilities.

“Everything that students learn in the classroom is utilized in these competitions, except they're thinking a little more out of the box in taking those technical skills they have and applying them to different and difficult situations,” McAvoy said.

In addition to applying technical skills, Benjamin Sperry, ASCE adviser and assistant professor of civil engineering, said the competition challenges students solve problems as a team. 

“All of the competitions require design and fabrication of something within the constraints of the rules – requiring application of technical expertise in solving civil engineering problems,” Sperry said. “Beyond the technical side, the students learn to work together as a team, resolve differences amongst themselves and work toward a common goal – we view this as a substantial benefit of participation and clear application of classroom lessons for “real-world” endeavors.”

The top three teams in the steel bridge and concrete canoe contests will advance to the national ASCE competition.


The final results for all categories and events are:

Balsa Wood Bridge:

1. University of Cincinnati Team No. 2

2. Western Kentucky Team No. 2

3. Cincinnati State


Civil Site Design:

1. The University of Cincinnati

2. The University of Akron

3. The University of Pittsburgh


Concrete Bat:

1. Western Kentucky University

2. The University of Louisville

3. Youngstown State


Concrete Canoe:

1. Youngstown State

2. Western Kentucky University

3. The University of Cincinnati



1. Cincinnati State

2. Ohio State University

3. University of Pittsburgh



1. Cleveland State University

2. Western Kentucky University Men’s Team

3. Youngstown State


Steel Bridge:

1. Youngstown State

2. The University of Akron

3. Cleveland State University


Display: Youngstown State

Economy: Youngstown State

Speed: Youngstown State

Stiffness: Youngstown State

Efficiency: University of Akron

Lightness: University of Akron



1. Ohio State University

2. University of Cincinnati

3. University of Akron


Technical Paper:

1. Western Kentucky University

2. University of Dayton

3. Ohio University


Spirit Award:

The University of Akron


For more information, including descriptions of all competitions, visit the conference website.