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WKU civil engineers win Ohio Valley regional conference

Concrete canoe, steel bridge teams advance to national competitions

WKU civil engineering students, faculty and staff attend the 2016 Ohio Valley Student Competition at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

WKU civil engineering students, faculty and staff attended the 2016 Ohio Valley Student Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

WKU civil engineering students finished first overall in the 2016 Ohio Valley Student Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the concrete canoe and steel bridge teams advanced to national competitions.

A total of 391 civil engineering students from 14 colleges and universities from Ohio, Kentucky and western Pennsylvania competed March 31-April 2 at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

Concrete canoe

WKU finished first overall in the concrete canoe competition for the second year in a row and qualified for the National Concrete Canoe Competition June 9-11 at the University of Texas at Tyler. The team placed first in design paper and oral presentation, and second in final product. In the canoe races, WKU finished first in co-ed sprint and second in all other races including men’s and women’s sprint, and men’s and women’s endurance.

“Having advised the WKU Concrete Canoe team for over 20 years now, each year seems to bring different challenges,” said Professor Matthew Dettman, concrete canoe team faculty advisor. “Some years things really fall into place and other years they don’t. This year Murphy’s Law showed up significantly more often than in years past; however, this team was able to step up to the challenge and overcome each time. They never quit and worked hard to bring the best possible product to the competition and they performed extremely well. We won the competition by 1 percentage point which meant every single aspect of the competition really mattered. When we absolutely had to have a win in parts of the competition they delivered. I’m very proud of this team and look forward to the National Championships in June.”

Concrete canoe team members include team co-captains Kayla Frye of Nancy and David Miller of Louisville; Taylor Bowling of London; Jared Claiborne of Scottsville; Grayson Bills of Greensburg; Stewart Parker and Austin Reynolds of Owensboro; Gavin Houchins of Bowling Green; Sean McCarty of Campbellsville; Jonathan Turner of Paducah; Trey Baston of Tompkinsville; Gavin Young of Glasgow; Elizabeth Cardwell of Russellville; Mohammed Alajmi and Mohmoud Alfailakawi of Kuwait City, Kuwait; Tyler Baker of Lawrenceburg; Zach Thorpe of Cadiz; Caitlin Brown of Hartford; Megan Jones of Glasgow; and Rachael Wilson of Elkton.

Steel bridge

In the steel bridge competition, WKU finished third overall and advanced to the National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 27-28 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. This is the fourth year in a row that the team qualified for the national competition. The team placed first in display, second in construction speed and economy, and third in efficiency.

“The team this year decided to design and build a magnificent curved steel arch truss bridge,” said Dr. Shane Palmquist, steel bridge team faculty advisor. “This required an extreme level of detail in terms of member and connection design as well as careful attention to fabrication and building of the bridge. I am so proud of their dedication and accomplishment. This team of young men and women are extremely talented and deserving of praise.”

Steel bridge team members include team tri-captains James Thomason and Drake Riley of Bowling Green and Daniel Hammer of Tompkinsville; Caitlin Brown of Hartford; Colton Dorris of Clarksville, Tennessee; Jessica Collins of Somerset; Taylor McMurtry of Hendersonville, Tennessee; Cory Smith of Whitesville; Lacey Martin of Glasgow; Sarah Hay of Louisa; and Nathan Hughes, Franklyn Perez and Fahad Alhumaid, all of Bowling Green.


In the surveying competition, WKU tied for third overall with Ohio University.  Team members include Daniel Hammer of Tompkinsville, Nathan Hughes of Bowling Green, Zach Thorpe of Cadiz, and Jacob Cornett of Cumberland.

Dr. Ronald Gallagher, advisor to the surveying team, said this year’s competition involved four events. The first event was size determination of a triangular shape by pacing. The second event was differential leveling along the steep downstream dam slope. The third and fourth events were a sewer grade stake-out and then a building foundation stake-out.

Balsa wood bridge

WKU finished first in the balsa wood bridge competition for the fourth year in a row. Team members include James Thomason and Franklyn Perez, both of Bowling Green, Colton Dorris of Clarksville, Tennessee, and Tyler Baker of Lawrenceburg.

Concrete bat

In the concrete bat competition, WKU finished second in the event to construct a reinforced concrete bat. Team members include Trey Baston of Tompkinsville and Jared Claiborne of Scottsville. Judging was based on bat aesthetics and lightness as well as the distances that balls were hit during the competition.

Concrete bowling ball

WKU finished first overall in the concrete bowling ball competition. Team members include Jonathan Turner of Paducah, Mohammed Alajmi and Mohmoud Alfailakawi, both of Kuwait City, Kuwait, and Zach Thorpe of Cadiz. The competition was to construct a reinforced concrete bowling ball and compete for points. Bowling ball aesthetics was also part of the competition.

Geotechnical engineering

Drake Riley of Bowling Green, Jessica Collins of Somerset, Cory Smith of Whitesville and Sarah Hay of Louisa competed in the geotechnical engineering competition to construct a mound of sand the fastest and tallest using reinforcement.

Civil site design

In the civil site design competition, Lacey Martin of Glasgow competed in the event to create a civil/site design in AutoCAD according to the specifications provided.  Judging was based on accuracy, speed and the process used to create the layout and drawings.

Environmental engineering

In the environmental engineering competition, Caitlin Brown of Hartford, Sarah Hay of Louisa and Megan Jones of Glasgow competed in the event to design and construct an apparatus to filter contaminants from a water supply in a cost effective and efficient method.

Technical paper

In the technical paper competition, David Miller of Louisville competed in the event that involved writing a paper and giving a professional presentation on a civil engineering topic. The topic this year was should the design engineer of record who signed and sealed the plans be held responsible to any degree for injury or death to builders or bystanders that occur during construction.

In addition to WKU’s Department of Engineering, participating schools were Akron, Carnegie Mellon, Cincinnati, Cincinnati State, Cleveland State, Dayton, Geneva College, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Youngstown State.  The 2017 Ohio Valley Student Conference will be held at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Contact: Engineering, (270) 745-2461

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