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University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez's award-winning team
University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez’s award-winning team. Photo submitted.

The Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPR-M), home school of Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC) project Principal Investigator Ismael Pagán-Trinidad and Co-Principal Investigator Ricardo López, recently took first prize in a regional competition to build the best concrete canoe, steel bridge and other competitions. Professors Pagán-Trinidad (department chair) and López (department associate chair for research and graduate studies) direct the CRC project “Education for Improving Resiliency of Coastal Infrastructure.”

At the March 10-12 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Southeast Student Conference 2016 at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL, UPR-M, the civil engineering team, under the leadership and coordination of civil engineering and surveying students and mentor faculty, took overall first prize in a regional competition that judges all aspects of vessel design and use. The ASCE holds the three-day competition, which also includes students from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, annually. UPR-M won 17 prizes, nine of which were first prizes:

  • Balsa Bridge
  • Concrete Corn Hole
  • Steel Bridge Economy
  • Steel Bridge Construction Speed
  • Steel Bridge Overall
  • Concrete Canoe – Women’s Sprint
  • Concrete Canoe – Men’s Sprint
  • Concrete Canoe – Design Paper
  • Regional Competition Overall
Canoe design
A canoe design is shown from the regional competition. Photo submitted. Photo submitted.

“We are excited and proud of our students, faculty and sponsors,” Pagán-Trinidad said. “We have been in first place three times and second place twice in the last five years. It takes a lot of effort but more determination and passion from our students to even been able to participate, not to mention becoming champs.”

Pagán Trinidad said that students gain extensive educational and creative experiences through the ASCE competitions.

“This has been a school tradition starting in the late 90s to build a team, prepare for the competitions, and compete to the best of their abilities as an alternative learning experience in the program,” he said. “ASCE student chapters work hard for almost a year at the Civil Engineering facilities where they plan, analyze, design, model, build and test various products for the competitions.

“The most significant outcome of these alternative learning experiences is the outstanding leadership students developed, which is reflected throughout their remaining university life and their professional careers. It is well acknowledged by the impression they leave on industry and government recruiters in job fairs.”

UPR-M students advance to the national ASCE competition for Concrete Canoe at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah from May 27-29, and for Steel Bridge at the University of Texas-Tyler from June 9-11. Close to 50 universities from North America and China will compete.

An article from UPR-M (in Spanish) can be found on their website.

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