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21 February 2013

E-Week promotes competition, celebrates engineering

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(Photos by Cayla Nimmo and Charlotte Cushing)

 

All branches of the College of Engineering joined together to host E-Week this week, which will be followed by the ASCE Southeast Student Conference in March.

E-Week combines competitions, expos and celebrations of the engineering discipline to demonstrate the need for and education of science, math and the technical skills.

E-Week, which began on Monday with a Tau Beta Pi sponsored event, includes a Mr. Engineer Pageant, Innovation Expo and Row Across the Lake. It culminates Sunday with a Hackathon event.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers President Tom Knight hosted the Build-It event that brought together 150 students from several local high schools to introduce them to engineering as a profession.

“We show engineering as a possible career choice by showing how awesome and fun it is,” Knight said.

The Row Across the Lake was sponsored by American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and featured concrete canoes from previous competitions in support of E-Week and ASCE’s upcoming Southeast Student Conference.

For the first time in more than 10 years, the University of Miami, along with Florida International University, will jointly host the ASCE Southeast Student Conference.

The conference will host 24 universities from the Southeast region, 850 students and more than 100 professionals spanning both campuses, Tropical Park and Parrot Jungle.

The conference is comprised of 15 different engineer-oriented competitions that are meant to test what the students have learned in the classroom, out in the field.

“Doing equations in the classroom is one thing,” said Carol Hays, the faculty advisor for ASCE. “Applying these numbers is something completely different.”

For one of the competitions, students build a concrete canoe.

“It has to float,” Hays said. “So the students make their own mix, reinforcing it and making it lightweight, applying fluid mechanics and buoyancy just to name a few.”

The other main event is the steel-bridge competition, which involves cutting and welding steel, construction, and testing its strength by hanging 1400 lbs. from the top.

“Last year we stayed until three in the morning everyday practicing putting the bridge up it and taking it down over and over,” said Fabi Praca, who was captain of his team.

The judges score the bridge on several components. One of them is the actual construction, which involves fast-paced efficiency and is high stakes, because every error involves a penalty, Praca said.

One of the primary advantages of the conference involves the opportunity for employers to get a good look at prospective future employees.

“I used this competition to hire students straight from the conference,” said Jose Acosta, a practitioner advisor for UM ASCE. A former ASCE president, Acosta graduated from UM in 1999.

Acosta, who is a 10-year veteran of the event, will be judging the concrete canoes.

“It really gives them the opportunity to show their technical, management and leadership skills in a very unique way,” he said.

To capitalize on that, the conference is holding a career networking event that will bring together 25 companies to meet with the 850 students in attendance.

One of the primary sponsors of the event is Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht. Gilberto Neves, CEO of Odebrecht USA, stressed that good talent is what makes this conference.

“Every time we go into these events, we get great talent,” Neves said. “We have very ambitious goals for growth in this country, and we need to attract the best.”

Praca said that, more than networking with other companies, the event is about networking with other engineers from different schools, making connections and honing in your talents.

“You put together all the different ideas you hear in class and make something happen,” Praca said.

Along with Odebrecht, there are 14 other organizations sponsoring the conference.

 

IF YOU GO

What: ASCE Southeast Student Conference

When/Where: 4 p.m. March 14 at Coral Gables campus, March 15 at FIU, March 16 at Tropical Park with an award ceremony immediately after at Jungle Island