UB ASCE builds success at Upstate New York Conference

ASCE steel bridge team practices building outside of Davis Hall on north campus

The steel bridge team times their build days before competing.

By Peter Murphy

Published May 11, 2018

The UB American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student club qualified for the national conference and earned a top five spot in four different competitions at the ASCE Upstate New York regional conference, held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) last month.

“It was great to see the pride everyone had in the project. We want to keep that feeling going and keep the momentum for next year.”
Zachary Vacek, UB ASCE president
Civil Engineering Junior

UB ASCE received third place for their overall performance at the conference. This award reflects their performance in the various competitions associated with the steel bridge and concrete canoe projects. The club won first place in the oral presentation of the steel bridge competition, and second place overall.  “It was exciting to see us back in our element,” says Zachary Vacek, a junior civil engineering student and current UB ASCE president, “It was great to see the pride everyone had in the project. We want to keep that feeling going and keep the momentum for next year.”

Twelve colleges and universities from the U.S., Canada and China competed in the steel bridge competition. UB ASCE’s steel bridge team will compete in the 2018 national ASCE Student Steel Bridge Competition, later this month.

The club received fourth place overall in the concrete canoe competition based on judgements made regarding design, display, presentation, submersion and other aspects, including how well it performs in a race. Although the canoe team did not advance to nationals, the canoe races on the Saturday of the conference was one of the most influential moments of the conference.

“That’s when all the teams come together and everyone is out there on the beach cheering their paddlers on,” says Conor Blake, current UB ASCE secretary and president-elect for the next academic year, “It’s a nice atmosphere; it’s kind of like the final product coming all together.”

Blake’s description of the final competition exemplifies a larger sentiment both he and Vacek saw at the conference. Teams throughout the region often discuss their projects, and often work together to address certain issues.

“The connections are huge because you gain insight on how other people are developing these projects. It really helps to evolve your own team,” says Vacek, “We have a great relationship with the teams in our region. We vote on new bylaws every year at this conference, and this year, nearly every team in the region sort of got together to share some issues with saw with the national ASCE. We’re working with the other teams to make the conference better.”

The club found success at RPI, and members ackowledge the dedication and work required from everyone associated with UB ASCE. "Based on feedback from the national ASCE organization, the chapter is doing very well," says Todd Snyder, UB ASCE faculty advisor, "The chapter’s success is a result of the students’ hard work, and the support it receives from Dean Liesl Folks and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Chair of the department, Dr. Atkinson, many local businesses and alumni, the Buffalo Section of ASCE which itself is very active, and the hard work and long hours of practitioner advisors John Gast Jr. and Tim VanOss.”

The ASCE National Student Steel Bridge Competition takes place May 25-26 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois.

Check out photos from the conference below