April 25, 2011

LSU civil engineering students placed second and third, respectively, in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Deep South concrete canoe and steel bridge regional competitions March 25-26 at Mississippi State University.

The Deep South concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions are the region’s ASCE preliminaries to the organization’s national competitions. Twelve schools participated in the conference, including Louisiana Tech University, the University of Mississippi, Arkansas State University and the University of Memphis.

In the concrete canoe competition, scores are based on the canoes’ aesthetics and ability to float; co-ed, male and female sprint and endurance races; and a paper and oral presentation about the team’s design.

The LSU concrete canoe team placed second overall in the competition. Other rankings included: first in the men’s endurance race, second in the women’s endurance race, third in the men’s sprint, first in the women’s sprint, fourth in the co-ed sprint and second in the final product display.

The LSU steel bridge team placed third overall in the competition with their 21-foot, 180 lb. bridge. Other rankings included: first in total weight, second in construction time and fourth in stiffness. 

The LSU Steel Bridge Team began preparations for the competition last semester. After the team had a firm grasp on the rules, the designing stage began. This year’s design was done with the help of Visual Analysis and Microsoft Excel. After finalizing the design, attention was turned to the construction of the bridge.

The team spent many hours in the shop fabricating, welding and constructing the bridge to prepare for the regional competition. During the construction phase, the team greatly benefited from the assistance of Ian Bizettte, construction management major, with the welding of the bridge. Also, the LSU mechanical engineering shop assisted with the fabrication of parts of the bridge.

The LSU concrete canoe team, supported by the LSU student chapter of ASCE, Louisiana Research Transportation Center, CSRS, Big River Ind., Hebert Engineering, Fugro Consultants and Aucoin and Associates, began preparing for the competition in the fall. In January, the team perfected its concrete canoe mix and design, poured the concrete and constructed the 20-foot long canoe, which they named “Titanic II.”

The competitions provide students with valuable experience in design and construction and grant them the opportunity to put engineering principles learned in the classroom into practice. Students also learn team and management skills necessary for the professional world. 

“There are the technical parts that go into making the canoe, but more important are the experiences of working with other people and getting involved,” said LSU concrete canoe team captain, Aleksandra Simicevic, senior, civil engineering and a native of Ruston, La. “I think those skills are what help people succeed in the work force, and ultimately, working on something like the concrete canoe helps us later in our jobs.” 

“This competition has been a great learning experience for us all. As much as I wanted to win, I feel accomplished that we finished the entire project,” said Simicevic. “So many skills went into creating this canoe, from time management to actually learning about the process of making concrete from start to finish.”

“I feel really good about how we did,” added co-captain James Parker, sophomore, civil engineering and a native of LaPlace, La. “We learned that we need to work as a team to get everyone involved as much as possible in order to get the best results.”

In the steel bridge challenge, students design and construct a steel bridge structure. Teams are judged based on the following criteria: the bridge’s display, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, construction economy (speed multiplied by the number of builders), structural efficiency and an overall performance rating.  

“The team now understands what needs to be done and the time and dedication it takes to build an award-winning bridge for this competition,” said team captain, David Ziegler, junior, civil engineering and a native of Lafayette, La.

Ayman Okeil, faculty advisor to the LSU student chapter of ASCE, explained that the students who participate in the concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions are dedicated and reap many immediate and long-term benefits from the competitions.

“These are the students’ projects. They don’t receive credit for this. So, the students who do this really want to do this,” Okeil said. “Just the experience that the students get from working as a team on a project, meeting deadlines and having a leader is an accomplishment in itself.”


The 2011 LSU concrete canoe team members included:

Aleksandra Simicevic (captain)

James Parker (co-captain)

Conference Team: Donovan Duffy, Joseph Ory, Lesley Cates, Kristina Galindo and Sarah Cochrane

Other Members: Brittany Alexander, Gregory Anderson and Salem David


The 2011 LSU steel bridge team members included:

David Ziegler (captain) 

Conference Team: Adam Milling, Mark Genre, Jacob Trowbridge, Christopher Sciortino, Morgan Hidalgo and Joshua Brown


Article by Aariel Charbonnet, College of Engineering Public Relations Graduate Assistant

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