VMI Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Hosts ASCE Conference

Cadets steer their concrete canoe named the U.S.S. Riester, named after Capt. Ned Riester, on Smith Mountain Lake.—VMI Photos by Col. Charles “Chuck” Newhouse

Cadets steer their concrete canoe named the U.S.S. Riester, named after Capt. Ned Riester, on Lake Robertson.—VMI Photo by Col. Charles “Chuck” Newhouse

LEXINGTON, Va., April 18, 2022—VMI’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering hosted students from eleven institutions April 7-9 for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2022 Virginias' Symposium. The first in-person ASCE student symposium since 2019, cadets, students, and faculty were thrilled to collaborate and compete on post and at Lake Robertson.

“We had great support from the civil engineering community in the region, including many VMI civil engineering alumni,” said Col. Matthew Swenty, professor of civil engineering.

"It was a good learning experience and opportunity to network with students from other schools,” added Samuel Moody ’22. “We had a great group of people, and a lot of effort was put in to successfully host [the conference] this year.”

VMI cadets and faculty were joined by participants from Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Fairmont State, West Virginia, West Virginia Tech, Marshall, James Madison, Liberty, Bluefield State, and the Miller School. The Miller School, a private high school in Crozet, Virginia, was one of the first high schools to ever participate in an ASCE conference. In addition, Tom Smith, the ASCE national executive director, attended the event and spoke at the banquet.

The conference featured ten competitions. The main events included a concrete canoe race and a steel bridge building competition. Highly anticipated by participants, both competitions tested students’ teamwork, design skills, and construction capabilities. Over the course of several months, teams built their respective canoes and fabricated pieces for their steel bridges. At the conference, teams raced their canoes on Lake Robertson, while the steel bridges were constructed under a time limit in the Corps Physical Training Facility. In addition to the main competitions, the conference featured leadership seminars and informative sessions.

Cadets valued the chance to test their design knowledge and learn new skills.

“The competition served as a unique hands-on learning experience that allowed the teams to become familiar with conceptualizing a design that could then be student-built into a physical product,” said Alexander DiPrampero ’22, who competed in the steel bridge building competition. “[My team was] introduced to design software and skills such as welding that we may not have been able to learn if it had not been for the competition.”

Eric Moore
VMI Photos by Col. Charles “Chuck” Newhouse
Communications & Marketing
Virginia Military Institute

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