Tag Archives: engineering competitions

ASCE Ohio Valley Student Conference

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 March 2014 – This weekend is the Ohio Valley Student Conference, a conference where schools like Ohio State, Youngstown State, Pitt, and Ohio University compete in civil engineering based competitions.

You may have heard of the concrete canoe and steel bridge, but I’m part of a smaller regional environmental competition. Every year teams are challenged to treat a polluted sample of water that is relevant to current environmental policy issues. Competitions have included treating drinking water contaminated with manganese, hydraulic fracturing flow back water contaminated with toxic metals, and simulated storm water runoff with high levels of orthophosphate.

This year, we have been challenged to create a treatment system from materials available at any local hardware store to treat simulated flue gas desulfurization (FGD) water. The water is not actual process water, because high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide and toxic metals are present. The goal of the treatment process is to reduce the level of calcium present in the water and, if possible, reduce conductivity of the water while maintaining an acceptable pH.

The challenge is difficult, but necessary, as the EPA may begin to impose stricter outfall permits on FGD landfills. These landfills are part of all modern coal-burning power plants and are necessary to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide released during the combustion of coal. Chances are an environmental engineer working in the Ohio Valley region, known for its coal deposits, will work with FGD in their career. I’m excited to see all the different methods for treating this contaminant.

Preparing Our Concrete Canoe

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 8 December 2013 – During the past two years I have been involved with American society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and every year in March we compete against other schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky with our concrete canoes. Yes, we make concrete float and race them with up to 4 people in the canoe.

Although the competition isn’t until March, we spend the entire school year preparing by constructing a mold and designing a new concrete mix because the specifications change every year. The past two years we have tried to do something we have never done before. Last year we did an injection mold and this year we are using per stressed wires.

Per stressed wires is something we wanted to give a try but problems keep showing up for our first test. First, we had to come up with a way of keeping the wires from being pulled out of the concrete after the tension is released. We need to have some object attached to the wire that will not move and provide contact points throughout the concrete walls. So we decided to use crimping nuts.

Secondly, we need to keep the wires off the mold so that they are in the middle of the wall to provide the best strength. We have decided to use flat head screws and drill them into the mold at a desired distance and the wire will rest in the grove of the screw head. Finally, we need to add about 100 to 150 pounds of tension to the 18 wires. We have decided to go with using a turn buckle to reach the right tension. A scale model with all of our solutions will be conducted the beginning of spring semester.

Flying Bobcats at Region III Safecon

Grant Rhue

Grant Rhue,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 20 October 2013 – During the past week, the Ohio University Flying Bobcats had the honor of representing the Department of Aviation at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s (NIFA) Region III Safecon competition held this year in Battle Creek, Michigan. Thirteen team members competed, led by Coach George Armann. The team traveled to Battle Creek on Thursday, October 10th and spent the weekend practicing and becoming acquainted with the airport and the flight conditions there.

In addition to the OU Flying Bobcats, teams from Ohio State, Kent State, U. of Cincinnati, and the host university, Western Michigan, took part. Competition events during the week included flight planning, preflight inspection, precision landings, aircraft navigation, flight recognition, and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.

Flying Bobcats

During the competition, we faced rapidly changing weather conditions that varied from sunny and warm to cold, blowing rain and low cloud ceilings. However, the Flying Bobcats are a dedicated group of individuals who proudly represent OU and are willing to go the extra mile. As you might expect, the Bobcats were undaunted by the weather challenges and they performed well against stiff competition. The team finished well in power-off landings, and our navigation team took home the third place trophy. For the fifth consecutive year, the Flying Bobcats received the Safety Award for outstanding safety procedures and practices. In the aircraft recognition competition, an event I enjoy, I finished second. Best of all, the OU Flying Bobcats qualified to complete in the national competition to be held in Columbus in spring 2014.

Flying Bobcats

This is my fourth year of competition and nationals in the spring will mark the last NIFA competition of my college career. But even after I’m gone, the Flying Bobcats will continue to represent OU with pride.

Steve Burns

Steve Burns,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 10 April 2013 – This semester two other ISE students and I were involved in an international computer simulation competition. The competition was a two month long project, put on by IIE (Institute of Industrial Engineers). We were given a problem statement about 2 months ago and along with some basic guidelines to follow. The top three teams from around the world, decided by a group of judges, get to travel to Puerto Rico to show off their projects with a chance to win first prize.

The problem statement was about a coal company’s coal shipping operation from three cities in the United States to four cities around the world. The overall goal of the project was to see if the current operation was successful and if not, then to provide a solution that will produce the lowest overall shipping costs for the company. The way we could change the operation was to change the number of ships that the company was using, and also route the ships differently around the world.

Animation was a big part of the judging for this competition. Below is a snapshot of the animation of our project. You can see some ships traveling from city to city, and the smaller screens are the individual cities where you can watch the ships coming into the shipping harbors.

Simulation Screen Shots

This project was a lot of fun to work on. The problem statement was full of small details that could greatly influence the outcome; such as weather causing shipping ports to close or the cost it takes a ship to travel through different canals. It also gave our team a chance to participate in the student expo here at the university, where students from any discipline across campus come and show off projects they have been working on throughout the year.

ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 8 April 2013 – It floats!!! That was the big news for the members of the Ohio University student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This past weekend our student organization, which I am currently president of, competed in the Ohio Valley Student Conference in events such as concrete canoe, steel bridge, environmental engineering, surveying, and technical paper competitions. We competed against other ASCE student chapters in the Ohio Valley region such as Ohio State University, Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, Youngstown State University, Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Western Kentucky University, and Cleveland State University, the conference host this year.

Our biggest accomplishment this weekend was launching a canoe and bringing it home in one piece. This is the fourth consecutive year our organization has built a concrete canoe, and this is the first time the canoe didn’t fail structurally in the water or during transport. I was personally captain of the environmental engineering team, we developed a bench scale column filter to remove phosphorous, the major component in fertilizer and a major contributor to toxic algal blooms, from simulated storm water. Although the results aren’t currently available, our independent tests yielded promising results.

Concrete Canoe

The coolest thing about my team’s design was the implementation of iron pigment we derived from acid mine drainage near campus. Using this source of iron we are effectively treating two water quality issues with one product. The following link is to a story about our concrete canoe team; note that our canoe was affectionately dubbed the Yellow Submarine. If you take a look at the pictures it becomes apparent why.

Read the Russ College news release for more details on the competition.