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Pitt Students Win First Place Overall at Ohio Valley Student Conference

PITTSBURGH (April 22, 2019) —From traditional skills like geotechnical surveys and designing a water treatment system, to the extravagant like building canoes and Frisbees out of concrete, students at the annual Ohio Valley Student Conference (OVSC) are challenged on their knowledge as well as their ingenuity.

This year, Students in the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering rose to the challenge, bringing home first place overall.

The conference took place on April 11-12, 2019, at the University of Akron in Ohio. Students in ASCE chapters from Ohio, Kentucky and Western Pennsylvania had a chance to take the technical knowledge they’re learning in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations.

“We are proud to be an entirely student run organization from top to bottom. Our team members and team captains have done an incredible job of making this possible, and our Vice President, Matt Paradise, has worked extremely hard to coordinate this conference for our chapter. We are also very proud to say that we participate in every competition that is offered, which is a somewhat of an accomplishment in and of itself,” says Todd Allen-Gifford, CEE student and ASCE chapter president. “From these competitions, our members get hands-on engineering experience, including learning how to weld steel, how to design and form concrete, how to survey land to collect data, and much more."

The group competed against 14 other schools in the Ohio Valley and were ranked first based on the results of individual competitions: 

Surveying: 1st place 
Environmental – Designing a Water-Treatment System: 3rd place
Environmental Technical Paper: 1st place
Technical Paper (Mead paper) – Ethical Importance of Diversity and Inclusion: 1st place
Civil Site Design - 2nd place
Concrete Frisbee – 2nd place
Spirit of the Competition Award 

In addition, the student teams participated in a balsa wood bridge competition, a geotechnical competition using soil to build water dams, and a concrete canoe competition.

“Our concrete canoe team takes concrete design and construction to a new level,” says Allen-Gifford. “They spend countless hours experimenting with lightweight materials in order to make the concrete durable while ensuring the canoe is an appropriate density in order to float properly. Other considerations include the comfort of the rowers, the steering of the boat (many of the races include several turns), aesthetics of the canoe, and more.” 

Nearly 50 students in the Pitt ASCE chapter attend the conference every year.

“We’re proud of the great work demonstrated by our students at this year’s competition,” says Anthony Iannacchione, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and ASCE faculty advisor. “Pitt's ASCE student chapter has performed at a high level for many years. That comes from enthusiastic, forward looking chapter officers and board members, a talented student body that often numbers well over 170-members, timely assistance from the CEE faculty and staff, and a supportive civil engineering community in the Pittsburgh region. We all have come to expect this kind of exemplary performance from our student groups."

Author: Maggie Pavlick

Contact: Maggie Pavlick