Civil engineering students excel at 2011 Pacific Southwest Conference

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
C.S. Papacostas, (808) 956-6538
Professor & Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Roger Babcosk, (808) 956-7298
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Posted: Apr 15, 2011

A contingent of 32 students from the University of Hawaiʻi Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the organization’s 2011 Pacific Southwest Conference from March 24 -26 at California State University, Los Angeles. 
The students were among 1,100 students from 19 universities in the region, including UCLA and other California colleges, Arizona, Arizona State and Nevada. Several such regional meetings are held every spring throughout the country. They usually include a business meeting, professional and technical presentations, competitions (technical paper presentations, concrete canoe, steel bridge, surveying), social activities and an awards banquet. Winners at the regional conferences are invited to participate in national competitions later in the year.
Considered one of the smaller groups in attendance (given the distance and travel costs involved), the UH Mānoa team did remarkably well by placing second in the steel bridge competition, won third place in four of five concrete canoe race events, and delivered an individual student technical paper that placed fifth.
The Steel Bridge Competition is a realistic project from conception and design through fabrication, erection, and testing, producing a structure that meets defined performance levels and balances cost, efficiency and aesthetic considerations. The UH Mānoa team of James Aoki (captain), Royal Miller, Jonathan Loeswick, Kevin Lau, Kevin Galvez, Scott Suzuki and Kevin Lau placed first in bridge lightness, first in stiffness, first in efficiency, second in construction speed, and second in economy. As a result of their success, the team earned a spot in the National Competition to be held at Texas A&M University from May 21-22.
The most popular concrete canoe competition requires each chapter to design, build and race a concrete canoe meeting a set of rules and specifications. UH Mānoa did well in women’s sprint, and women’s, men’s and coed slalom, placing 8th overall. Megan Ueno, a junior, placed fifth in the technical paper and presentation on the ethical implications of the fact that the national ASCE has been preparing and issuing a well-publicized “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” intended to inform the public and decision makers about the condition of the nation’s civil infrastructure. The ethical dilemma lies in the fact that members of ASCE would benefit from road and bridge, water and other infrastructure projects. On the other hand, the health and safety of the public would be endangered if deficiencies were not identified by knowledgeable groups such as ASCE.
“These competitions give our students first-hand exposure to the practical aspects of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom,” said Constantinos S. Papacostas, civil engineering chair at UH Mānoa. “They also hone their teamwork and management skills. I congratulate our students and their faculty advisor, Roger Babcock, for their dedication to the professional development of Hawaiʻi's future engineers.”