The Louisiana Tech University student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) notched two first-place wins and a third-place finish at the 2021 Deep South Conference.
Tech’s team won first place in the Sustainable Solutions Competition and with the Mead Paper, and third place in the Environmental Competition of the virtual conference.
After the 2020 competition was canceled due to the spread of COVID-19 last spring, the team was determined to make the 2021 season a successful one. When students returned to campus in the Fall 2020 Quarter, the team began developing strategies to compete in the upcoming 2021 ASCE competitions while practicing social distancing.
“Every year our ASCE students really look forward to the Deep South Conference, so even with the virtual format, I know the students were happy to be back to competing,” said Elizabeth Matthews, faculty advisor and Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology at Louisiana Tech. “I am extremely proud of the work the students put into preparing for the conference especially given the challenges of the last year. They continue to amaze me every year with what they accomplish.”
The team won first place in the Sustainable Solutions Competition by pitching a sustainable park designed with COVID safety measures in place. The team developed a plan in four weeks and submitted a technical summary, public outreach poster, and envision checklist documentation.
Rose Emery, Chemical Engineering junior, earned the team another first-place award for her Daniel W. Mead Prize for Students paper on the topic of responsibility of engineering in schools and the workplace during COVID.
“I was part of the group that went to nationals in 2019, and I wanted to create that opportunity again for our organization,” Emery said. “In order for our chapter to be invited, we need to have a minimum number of points spread across our regional ASCE competitions. Therefore, we need to compete in as many competitions as possible. So, when I saw that no one was really interested in the Mead paper, I decided this was a great way to support my org. I also really enjoy mental and moral challenges, which the Mead Paper, as a paper about ethics, was full of.”
The team won third place in the Environmental Competition for their solution to planning a hurricane evacuation as the cone of uncertainty updated during three phases: 36 hours before landfall, 18 hours before landfall, and landfall.
“This was a difficult year for organizations, and I’m proud that they were able to pull together to compete and win in so many categories,” said Louisiana Tech ASCE chair Katya Opel. “Although I couldn’t participate this year, I enjoyed watching the presentations and cheering the team on.”
“Participating in the conference was important to keep the team connected and working for a common goal,” team president Sydney Bratton added. “Like with many other things we had to adapt to an online platform for the conference, but one of the things Katya wanted to do was keep the camaraderie and team aspect alive as much as possible.
“Rather than all stay at our own houses/computers, we joined together on campus as a group and participated in the conference activities. We were able to cheer on and be there for our members presenting, work as a group at the different events, and just spend time together and grow closer as a group. With COVID being such a big factor this year, our teams had to adapt to the changes placed before us. A lot of different meetings had to be done online, and with in-person workdays, we had to make sure guidelines were met and that our participants stayed safe. I think our teams did a great job of tackling that challenge and we were able to see a lot of success this year.”
The Deep South Conference is held every year to foster networking among the student chapters and clubs within the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and to further technical, professional, and ethical knowledge of civil engineering for participating students.