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Several students cheer on the concrete canoe team.

Vols Experience Success and Engineering Fellowship in ASCE Event

The UT student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) participated in the 2022 ASCE Mid-South Student Symposium, held at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, in March 31–April 2.

Vols placed high in four competitions: second place for their concrete canoe and third place in the steel bridge, sustainable solutions, and innovation contests.

Concrete Canoe

CEE senior Savannah Jobkar served as captain of the canoe team and the innovation team.

“The experience I had at the conference was amazing and extremely rewarding,” she reported. “I will hold so many memories with me for the rest of my life. Highlights included Lake Day, when everyone went to race the canoes. Everyone from every student chapter was at the lake cheering on the rowers.”

The team’s first big moment was passing the swamp test—showing that their concrete canoe design would still float when swamped with water. Then came the adrenaline rush of racing the craft.

“Every time we’d race, we’d play ‘Rocky Top’ as loud as we could and cheer each other on,” said Jobkar. “We were determined to win, and we did win two races.”

The canoe competition drove home the importance of teamwork for these Engineering Vols.

“You cannot be successful in that competition without 100% teamwork,” said Jobkar. “Learning and optimizing everyone’s strengths was something we strategized and learned along the way.”

Jobkar focused on the canoe’s concrete mix. Others focused on the overall design from a structural standpoint.

“At the end of the day, we would all come together and be sure we were on the same page,” said Jobkar.

Another conference highlight for the team meeting the array of students from other chapters. Participants socialized outside of the events, networking and making new friends.

“I believe our passion to make our school proud made the conference successful for us and other Vol participants,” said Jobkar. “Everyone on our team had the drive to succeed and put our all into everything we do, even if that doesn’t mean first place. Every single participant from our chapter carries the Volunteer Spirit inside of them, and through our community and dedication we were led to success.”

Steel Bridge

This year’s steel bridge team—the Vols of Steel—was captained by rising senior Zachary Nieves. The diverse team of civil engineering students included Caleb Napper, Kevin Schnadelbach, Blythe Lundberg, Kathryn Stehle, Isabelle Hamby, Marissa Trobl, and Neisha French. They designed and constructed a cantilevered greenway to assemble in a timed build-off at the conference.

“It was incredible meeting so many new people who were also studying civil engineering, said Nieves. “It was also a great opportunity to see other teams’ designs in different competitions and build relationships with students from other universities.”

The team worked on their structural design throughout the fall semester and worked together in the spring semester to fabricate new steel members. They also refurbished some of last year’s steel bridge in honor of the team that could not compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 2, the team competitively assembled the bridge with a build time of 24 minutes. The bridge held the maximum competition weight of 2,500 pounds, with a deflection of only one inch under the 2.5-inch competition threshold. The Vols of Steel was one of the only three teams that held the max competition load.

“My conference highlight was when our steel bridge passed the loading scenario,” said Nieves. “This marked the point that my team and I had worked so hard for.”

In display of comradery and Volunteer Spirit, the Vols of Steel traded their competition hardhats with other universities’ teams—such as Arkansas State, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee Tech. Nieves felt the whole experience was a success for all, especially in the way the Vols shared their Big Orange energy.

“We, the Vols, were the loudest and most supportive team at the competitions,” he said. “I lost my voice after cheering for the concrete canoe team on the first day.”

The 2022 conference was a fun and insightful experience for all of the CEE students, who look forward to returning for competition in the 2023 in Chattanooga.