Engineering students hope to win five-year title

by Staff

in the first weekend in April, the San Diego State University chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering will attempt to win the steel bridge construction title for the fifth year in a row.

At the competition, which will be held at Loyola Marymount University, SDSU’s team will assemble a 20-foot-span bridge in about two minutes. The bridge is required to withstand a 2,700-pound load.

The bridge that supports the load with the least deflection will win the competition. Deflection is described as the amount the bridge moves when the load is placed on it. Last year’s winner had a deflection of about one-tenth of an inch.

SDSU’s chapter will be competing against schools such as the University of California San Diego, University of California Los Angeles, California State Polytechnic University Pomona and several other universities.

In addition to the steel bridge competition, the club will take part in concrete canoe construction, surveying, a volleyball tournament competition and other contests from April 2 to 5.

Club members who will be competing in the surveying competition have been practicing their skills in Parking Lot X on the north side of campus.

Each of the competitions has its own point total, and the chapter with the highest cumulative point total wins an overall award.

According to engineering professor Janusz Supernak, the club’s adviser, there is a new technique to the canoe competition, and the club is building two canoes. One is being tested in Lake Murray and the other will be saved for the actual competition.

“Our chances of winning a fifth time (in the steel bridge competition) are pretty good,” club president Mark Knox said. “We think we have a pretty good design.”

Knox, a civil engineering senior, described the new rules as an increased number of deflection points. The judges will have five points per side to measure from, and they will choose two per side to measure. The point with the highest deflection value will count as the team’s score.

“It must be completed in a very short period of time,” Supernak said. “Economy is a part of the competition.”

In real-life engineering projects, time is money the quicker a project is completed, the less it costs to complete.

The club has about 60 members and between 45 and 50 of the members will be attending the competition at Loyola Marymount.

“I have an extremely pleasant role with (club members) as adviser,” Supernak said. “We get involved in many community projects.”

Supernak won an award as outstanding adviser at the national level for the western states zone.

“It’s because of the student activities,” Supernak said. “This is one of the best chapters in the organization.”

Different club members are in charge of the separate competitions. Roman Sitaz is in charge of the steel bridge competition; Jenny Baumgarten is in charge of the concrete canoe; and Cindy Rezlar is in charge of the surveying team.

Knox encourages more freshmen and sophomore civil engineering students to get involved with the club as soon as they can.

“Early involvement can only help you down the road,” he said.