(April 22, 2013) McNeese State University civil engineering students won first place in the surveying competition at the recent 2013 Deep South Regional American Society of Civil Engineering Student Conference at Southern University in Baton Rouge.
The ASCE student chapter also placed third overall among the 14 universities from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee competing in various events, according to faculty adviser Dr. Jay Uppot.
The three-person team of Amit Sharma, junior, Anon Pandey, senior, and Kenneth Unkel, junior, had to survey a specific area on Southern's campus. The team had the best accuracy - with zero error - and one of the best field books among the competition.
"McNeese beat out such universities as Louisiana Tech, University of Tennessee at Martin and Arkansas State," said Uppot. "Our students did a great job in this year's competition."
McNeese's chapter also received high marks - and points - from the judges for its concrete canoe - Swamp Rocket - that didn't make it into the concrete canoe competition.
After engineering students worked over six months to prepare for this competition, which included everything from gathering material and testing for strength, flexibility and weight in McNeese's engineering labs to constructing the mold, making and applying the concrete mixture to the mold, letting it dry and then removing the canoe to sand and prep it with stain and sealer, it was time to test the canoe.
"On a trial run in a local lake, our canoe broke apart," explained Uppot. "We called the organizers and were told that we could compete without the canoe. So we took our display setup, cutout section, broken pieces and a totally different report - a forensic study (autopsy) analyzing the failure, the design and construction flaws and what we learned from this failure and recommendations for the future."
Uppot said the judges were totally impressed with the presentation and awarded the maximum points to McNeese.
"Engineering is not about success all of the time," said Uppot. "It's also about analyzing failures and learning from it. This was a good lesson for our students!"
Others attending the conference were Jiyang Chen, junior, Yubrani Eid, senior, Jared Fusilier, senior, Katie Hinson, junior, Nick Johnson, junior, Kien Nguyen, senior,
Anon Pandey, senior, Jessica Trahan, junior, Konrad Schultz, senior, Kalyn Scott, sophomore, Amit Sharma, junior, Kenneth Unkel, junior, and Michael Williams, senior.
"We are looking forward to next year's conference and plan to compete not only in the concrete canoe and surveying events but also in the steel bridge event, which includes designing and fabricating a steel bridge," said Trahan, ASCE chapter president. "We are a very hands-on organization and it's really an amazing experience to see how the theoretical concepts taught in our courses are applied in real life situations."