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More Than 200 Students to Build Bridges / Race Concrete Canoes at Claytor Lake

Virginia Tech is gearing up to host the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Virginias Student Symposium, marking the first time since 2012 that the university will host this regional competition celebrating civil engineering.

Eleven universities will participate in the three-day event March 28-30 on the Blacksburg campus. It will feature competitions such as a concrete canoe competition that challenges students to race a canoe they designed and built using concrete.

For the steel bridge competition, each student team develops a concept for steel bridge to scan approximately 20 feet and carry 2,500 pounds. The teams must design, plan, and assemble the bridge under timed conditions before being judged on aesthetics and load testing.

Another highlight is the presentation of the Hardy Cross trophy, a traveling trophy that is awarded based on an oral presentation about a civil engineering topic of the competitor’s choice. Virginia Tech’s Johanna Capone won the oral competition at last year’s Virginias Symposium.

Here is what else to expect:

  • The symposium will attract participants from universities in Virginia and West Virginia, including Bluefield State College, Fairmont State University, James Madison University, Liberty University, Marshall University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and West Virginia Institute of Technology.
  • Most events will be held in classroom buildings across the Blacksburg campus, but the concrete canoe competition will take place at Claytor Lake on March 29 and the steel bridge competition will take place in the Marching Virginians Center on March 30. Find entire schedule online.
  • The anticipated turnout is 250 students and 50 judges and volunteers.

Virginia Tech competed in the Student Steel Bridge National Competition in 2022 after placing first at the ASCE Virginias Student Symposium. Photo by Peter Means for Virginia Tech.Virginia Tech’s ASCE chapter, which is hosting this event, has nearly 200 active members and has been a driving force in promoting civil engineering education and outreach since 1922. The Virginia Tech team will be competing in all of the competitions in hopes of advancing to the national competitions. Last year, Virginia Tech’s Student Steel Bridge team placed first and advanced to the national competition in San Diego, California, where it placed fourth nationally.

Virginia Tech students are leading the planning and organization of the symposium, gaining experience in project management. It also will provide the opportunity to showcase the civil and environmental engineering department’s students, faculty, and facilities.

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