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Building engineering success through teamwork

Mizzou Engineering student teams built on winning foundations to bring home high honors and constructive experience from this spring’s regional competitions.

The Missouri University Retaining Wall Optimization team won first place during the April 17 regional geotechnical competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at Southern Illinois University—Carbondale. MU’s Concrete Canoe Team earned the top spot in its oral presentation and finished third overall at another of the ASCE regional contests held April 16—18 in Carbondale, while the Mizzou Steel Bridge Team didn’t place but gained substantial ASCE competition experience on which the group plans to build next year.

Mizzou geotechnical team leader Daniel Huaco, a civil engineering graduate student, credited his team’s previous competition experience for its win over three other regional challengers in the annual retaining wall-building contest. In particular, Huaco pointed to Mizzou’s first-place finish last March at a national geotechnical competition held by ASCE’s Geo-Institute in Orlando, Fla.

“We had momentum,” Huaco said. “We had prepared for the nationals, so we were ready for the regionals.”

Regional geotechnical team members, which included Chelsea Smith, Tyler McKee, Ploisongsaeng Intaratip as well as Huaco, built a wall able to hold more than 50 pounds out of poster board reinforced by paper. The team used only 48 square inches of paper reinforcement in the wall, Huaco said.

Mizzou also benefited from team experience in ASCE’s concrete canoe competition, which focused on canoe speed, aesthetics and design and oral presentation proficiency, MU concrete canoe team Captain Seth Scheilz said.

Eleven of Mizzou’s 16 concrete canoe team members were competition veterans, helping MU place first out of 11 teams in the contest’s oral presentation portion and third in the racing portion to win a top-three spot overall, said Scheilz, a civil and environmental engineering junior. Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville finished first overall, while the University of Oklahoma came in second in the overall competition.

The Mizzou team’s final standing reflects its experience in developing canoe molds and concrete mixes, which gave members time to focus on making their entry lighter and faster than last year’s, said Smith, a civil and environmental engineering sophomore who competed on MU’s concrete canoe team as well as in the geotechnical event.

“I’m ecstatic about how it turned out this year,” said Smith, who plans to serve as co-captain of the 2010 concrete canoe team. “We’re competing for No. 1 next year, we’re pretty sure.”

Mizzou steel bridge team members, whose girder bridge was disqualified during this year’s competition when it deflected to the allowable limit before the full 2,500-pound load was applied, aim to benefit from experience they gained. Having added nearly a dozen new members this year, steel bridge team Co-Captain Kelly Schaefer said next year’s team will enjoy the advantage of a veteran lineup.

“I think those guys are going to stick around,” said Schaefer, a civil and environmental engineering senior. “And they got a lot of great ideas from the competition.”

“I’m ecstatic about how it turned out this year,” said Smith, who plans to serve as co-captain of the 2010 concrete canoe team. “We’re competing for No. 1 next year, we’re pretty sure.”

Mizzou steel bridge team members, whose girder bridge was disqualified during this year’s competition when it deflected to the allowable limit before the full 2,500-pound load was applied, aim to benefit from experience they gained. Having added nearly a dozen new members this year, steel bridge team Co-Captain Kelly Schaefer said next year’s team will enjoy the advantage of a veteran lineup.

“I think those guys are going to stick around,” said Schaefer, a civil and environmental engineering senior. “And they got a lot of great ideas from the competition.”