UB ASCE leaders earn awards from ABCD WNY

Riley Blasiak and Andrew Kist.

Blasiak, left and Kist, right

By Peter Murphy

Published December 21, 2020

Riley Blasiak, a junior civil and environmental engineering student and Andrew Kist, a senior civil engineering student won a combined $9,000 from Association of Bridge Construction and Design’s Western New York (ABCD WNY) Chapter. 

Success in times of adversity


“Once I finish school, I hope to go into bridge engineering and hopefully work on projects in Buffalo,” says Kist, who serves as the president for UB’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student club. “Being recognized by a professional bridge engineering organization, especially one based out of Western New York, is quite an honor for me.”

Kist won the Phillip F. Frandina Memorial Scholarship for New York State residents attending an accredited school in the state enrolled in either a four- or five-year bridge related program. The scholarship is named after engineering alumnus and founder of Frandina Engineering and Land Surveying, PC, Phillip F. Frandina. 

Blasiak serves as UB ASCE’s secretary, and won the ABCD WNY Bachelor Degree Scholarship. Blasiak has been associated with the club since her freshman year. She was the fundraising chair for the club last year, and first became involved with ABCD in 2019. 

“As fundraising chair for UB ASCE I worked a lot with ABCD. I found out about this scholarship opportunity through these networking discussions,” Blasiak says. “I have always been interested in bridge construction. My interest began with participation in high school Science Olympiad and continues now through ASCE with the steel bridge competition. I have won this scholarship twice, and both years I have attended the annual conference where construction projects and new technologies are presented.”

While both students have been able to secure scholarships for their individual work, they have been able to manage more challenging situations associated with UB ASCE. The club typically participates in a number of competitions at the end of the spring semester. The regional conference is usually held at the end of March or April and features the concrete canoe, steel bridge and other competitions. UB ASCE starts work on these competitions in August. Kist and Blasiak are in leadership roles with UB ASCE during the club’s unprecedented virtual year. 

“We are putting a bigger emphasis on the professional development side of civil engineering this year, and have had several guest speakers come in to discuss their experiences in the industry,” Kist says. “Our club members have done a fantastic job of being flexible and adapting to the ‘new normal’ for club activities this year.”

Blasiak has utilized connections to help enhance the experience for club members as well. “It has been rewarding because of the great network of people that are also leaders within the club,” she says, “we have been able to navigate these changing times and exchange ideas.”