Texas A&M American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter hosts 2018 ASCE Texas-Mexico Student Symposium
Concrete canoes, bowling balls and Frisbees. While this mix of objects sounds odd, these items are the namesakes of engineering competitions for civil engineering students who attended the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2018 ASCE Texas-Mexico Student Symposium. Held from April 11-14, the symposium, hosted by the ASCE student chapter at Texas A&M University, invited students from 21 universities in both Mexico and Texas to participate in competitions, professional networking opportunities and learning activities.
The ASCE holds 19 student symposiums a year that act as qualifying rounds for the national concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions, but an additional component of this year’s symposium was having speakers and professionals give presentations on engineering soft skills. The theme for the conference was “SERVE: Engineers Serving the Public,” and included seminars on sustainability skills to support students in their transition as learners to professionals in industry. James Gayle, the student chapter’s committee head for the symposium, is proud to be able to further the reach and impact of the symposium by allowing schools to come together and learn.
“Now that we’ve transitioned this into more of a symposium it allows all these students from different places to get to network with professionals,” Gayle said. “We also hosted a career center and brought ten companies to talk about potential internships and full – time jobs to more than 400 students.”
Students got to test their mettle in a steel bridge competition, where students from each school are required to design, fabricate and construct a steel bridge and test it under various loads. Each university also fielded a concrete canoe team who had their constructed canoes on display but were not able to race them on Saturday due to inclement weather.
The chapter also hosted a student paper competition, which allowed students to discuss and share research, and a social event so the students could relax during the symposium.
“The symposium is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work for everyone involved,” Gayle said. “The social and the fun competitions we hold, like the concrete bowling and concrete Frisbee stuff, are the only times that everyone gets to relax.”
The responsibility of hosting the symposium was decided two years ago, when the members placed a bid to host the symposium and won. While planning the event, the current officers of the chapter knew they wanted it to be more than just a series of competitions, which is something they felt they were able to achieve.
“The student team that put this together worked really hard to make this an engaging and full event,” Gayle said. “We wanted it to be something where people were able to compete, but also have fun and learn and truly make it an event for the students.”