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Student successes

By Julia Davis
December 7, 2023

Students wearing hard hats building components of a steel bridge

Steel Bridge team's return to competition leads to nationals

When people think of civil engineering, often one of the first things that comes to mind is building bridges. That’s precisely what the Steel Bridge team has been doing this past year as they’ve traveled across the country to compete. 

Hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Steel Bridge Competition is a testament to young engineers' skills. It challenges student teams nationwide to construct a scale-model steel bridge that spans 20 feet and can carry at least 2,500 pounds.

This year was the UW team’s first year back after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. In the spring, the team made its mark at the ASCE Student Symposium, which was held at Montana State University in Bozeman. Part of the symposium included the Regional Steel Bridge Competition, where the team’s hard work and dedication paid off as they placed fourth place overall and garnered a commendable third place in the "Stiffness" category.

This impressive finish led to an unexpected invitation to nationals. But with success came a scheduling hurdle: the national competition overlapped with the CEE department graduation, meaning that the seniors could not accompany the team. With resilience typical of engineers, in the month between the regional and national face-offs, team members sprung into action, training and onboarding three new classmates to fill the seniors’ spots so they could send a full team.

At nationals, which took place at the University of California San Diego, the team faced off with 42 schools from across the country. The team’s bridge achieved ranking at the competition, meaning it fulfilled all the load tests and competition requirements. While they might not have clinched a top spot, team members’ spirits remained undeterred. As Jana Escoton, a CEE student and the team's general manager, aptly put it, they were “just happy to be there.”

A group of students in a row with their bodies half in the water while holding on to a concrete canoe

Concrete Canoe team secures national recognition

The UW Concrete Canoe team has consistently turned heads, not merely by showcasing the buoyancy of concrete, but by clinching victories in intense competition. Last April, the team won first place at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ PNW Student Symposium hosted by Montana State University in Bozeman. The team’s momentum persisted into June, where it achieved an impressive eighth place finish at nationals at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, competing against 24 other prestigious teams from across the country. Known to many as the “America's Cup of Civil Engineering,” the Concrete Canoe competition is a fusion of hands-on application and theoretical mastery. It pushes students to sharpen their engineering skills, craft ingenious designs and strategize the daunting task of racing a very heavy canoe.