Student engineering team taking “Harry Potter”-themed canoe into competition

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Competitions |

This content is more than a year old. Find upcoming events on the calendar or recent news on the home page.

concrete canoe competition, civil engineering competition

The 2017 Concrete Canoe team will represent ASU at one of the major student competitions sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Photographer: Natalie Miller/ASU


After a year of work, an Arizona State University team is primed to put its skills to the test in one of the most challenging student engineering contests.

Most of the more than 20 team members will be at the University of California, Irvine, on April 6 through 8 for the annual American Society of Civil Engineers Pacific Southwest Conference Concrete Canoe Competition.

The ASU squad — all students in School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment in the Fulton Schools of Engineering — will compete against teams from 18 other colleges and universities in Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona.

The two teams that turn in the best performances get a trip in mid-June to the Colorado School of Mines for the national ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition. Members of the top three teams there will receive scholarship awards.

The event is designed to make students demonstrate their talent at applying fundamental civil engineering principles and methods.

“First we had to develop a project schedule and use a scheduling tool to manage all the work. We also had to ensure each aspect of the canoe adheres to a set of stringent standards,” says Veronica Head, one of two project managers. Caesar Castro is the other manager.

“For our hull design and structural analysis, we used MATLAB and a computer code to build canoe models. We also had to perform structural calculations to verify the stability of the design,” Head explains.

The team had to design concrete mixes and test them to determine if they met industry standards. Construction of the canoe also had to meet extensive quality-control standards.

concrete canoe competition, civil engineering competition

Crushed sea shells, microscopic glass spheres and recycled glass balls, went into a lightweight concrete mix the team concocted for its Harry Potter-themed canoe. Photographer: Natalie Miller/ASU

A change in the competition rules during the past year challenged the team to make significant changes to its canoe design.

“We had to reinvent our entire concrete mixture. This involved getting new materials and testing them,” Head says. “One of the new materials is actually crushed sea shells. We also decided to build ribs in to the canoe for the first time, which are basically rails that run along the belly of the boat.”

At the competition, teams must submit a written project report and present an oral report, as well as provide a computer-aided-design drawing of its canoe.

Judges evaluate canoes on whether they are in compliance with all competition rules and structural and engineering standards. They also rate the boats on the quality of workmanship they exhibit and on their overall appearance.

Teams are also judged on how creatively a canoe’s aesthetics and its display at the competition depicts the project’s theme.

The ASU team chose as the theme of its canoe the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter books and movies.

“We thought it would be a really fun theme that we could do a lot with,” Head says. “Our canoe display will have a lot of Harry Potter-themed props in it, like magic wands and Quidditch balls.”

The aggregate materials the team used in their concrete mix will be displayed “like they’re in a magic potions cabinet,” she adds.

The Fulton Schools students are especially eager to make a strong showing at this year’s event because next year’s competition will be at ASU, which will co-host the event with Northern Arizona University.

Read more: “Concrete Canoe team endeavors cast these Fulton Schools alums off on rewarding journey

Read More

Fulton Schools teams got valuable experience at construction management competition

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Competitions |

This content is more than a year old. Find upcoming events on the calendar or recent news on the home page.

student construction management competition, Associated Schools of Construction, Reno competition

The ASU Heavy/Civil Construction team took third place at the Reno competition. Pictured right to left are students Tanner Schafersman, Augustine Otero, Tim Boyer, Nathan Eldodt, student recruiter Whitney Hatfield, and students Sam Schlinger and Jake Ellis.


The Fulton Schools made a strong showing at this year’s Associated Schools of Construction regional conference in Nevada, which features one of the largest and most challenging student construction management competitions, known as the Reno Competition.

The event drew more than 1,000 students and more than 180 teams from 45 colleges and universities in 16 states.

The Fulton Schools sent 51 students — mostly construction management, construction engineering and civil engineering majors — who made up seven teams covering most of the categories in the competition.

The Heavy/Civil Construction team finished in third place overall in its category.

Other Fulton Schools teams entered in the categories of Commercial, Design/Build, Mixed Use, Integrated Project Delivery, Virtual Design and Construction and Electrical Construction.

The competition is designed to test how students perform under pressure, explains Aaron Cohen, one of the students’ faculty advisors along with Kraig Knutson. Both are lecturers in the Fulton Schools’ Del E. Webb School of Construction.

Teams are presented a management problem from a real-world construction project that was faced by companies that sponsor each corresponding category of the competition.

Student are then a given a day to work on solutions to those problems, which likely will necessitate devising detailed project schedules, costs estimates, work plans and related construction management planning and strategies.

The next day teams give presentations on their solutions to the category judges — judges who actually had to solve those same kinds of problems for their companies.

“The students have to work as a team to be successful and they get an opportunity to showcase their talents to the same industry members who are recruiting and hiring our students,” Cohen says.

“The competition is extremely valuable because it does an excellent job of simulating a real-world environment, often better than what we can do in a classroom,” he says. “Many of the members of this year’s teams were young, with a lot of sophomores and juniors. So I’m looking forward to seeing how they are able to take what they’ve learned this year and apply it to the competition next year.”

student construction management competition, Associated Schools of Construction, Reno competition

Professor of Practice Wylie Bearup (top row, far left) mentored the Fulton Schools Electrical Construction team at the Reno competition. From left, back row, are student team members Fancisco Rodriguez, Ray Kubiak, McLean Johnson and prospective Fulton Schools student Stettler Anderson. From left, front row, are students Tashi Hebel, Marlene Tapia and April Lubenow with student recruiter Whitney Hatfield.










Read More

Fulton Schools student groups pitch in to help military veteran

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Outreach |

This content is more than a year old. Find upcoming events on the calendar or recent news on the home page.

supporting veterans, student volunteership, home for military veteran

ASU students, faculty and some of their family members and friends gathered to assist construction workers in doing the ground work to rebuild a home for an Arizona military veteran whose house had been destroyed by fire. Photographer: Brian Fore/ASU

Students from the Arizona State University chapter of the American Concrete Institute and the Fulton Student Veterans Organization were among volunteers who assisted with work to rebuild a house north of Phoenix for a U.S. military veteran.

The project was organized by the Arizona ACI chapter, which donated materials and professional labor, in cooperation with Operation Enduring Gratitude, a veterans’ support foundation.

About 20 of the 60 volunteers on the construction crew on a recent Saturday were ASU students or their family members.

ASU’s contingent was organized by Jonathan Lyle, treasurer for both the FSVO and the ASU ACI chapter, and Associate Professor James Ernzen with the Fulton School’s Del E. Webb School of Construction in the Schools of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

supporting veterans, student volunteership, home for military veteran

The Arizona chapter of the American Concrete Institute provided construction professionals and materials for the home building project. Photographs courtesy of the Fulton Student Veterans Organization

“This was an outstanding opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the concrete industry. We were able to work side-by-side with construction trade professionals while also supporting a great cause,” Lyle said.

David Ramirez, president of the Fulton Schools student veterans group executive board, said the two student organizations expect to work with Operation Enduring Gratitude again in the future.

See a YouTube video of the volunteers at work.

The event was also reported on by local ABC15 News.

If you’re interested in getting involved, contact David Ramirez at or Jonathan Lyle





Read More

Learn about some of ASU’s robotics research — and opportunities for you to get involved, Feb. 15

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Events, Opportunities | 1 comment

This content is more than a year old. Find upcoming events on the calendar or recent news on the home page.

In his Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Fulton Schools Assistant Professor Wenlong Zhang is exploring a broad range of potential uses for a variety of robotic technologies and systems.

Using swarms of robotic unmanned aerial vehicles, such a drones, for remote surveillance is part of the research being done by Assistant Professor Wenlong Zhang. Photograph courtesy of Sun Devils Robotics.

His projects include developing technologies for wearable sensors and robotics for gait analysis and neuro-rehabilitation, and the control and coordination teams of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles.

He’s also pursuing advances in human-robot interaction to improve collaborative manufacturing operations.

ASU’s Sun Devil Robotics student organization is putting Zhang on stage to give a presentation on his research — and to let you know about potential opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in robotics research at ASU.

Sun Devil Robotics Research Presentation
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
6 p.m.–8 p.m.
Schwada Building (SCOB) 228, Tempe campus [map]

Questions? Contact




Read More

Computer science research talents bring undergrads honors

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in Students |

This content is more than a year old. Find upcoming events on the calendar or recent news on the home page.

Research in areas ranging from visual analytics and self-organizing particle systems to machine learning and computational genetics has earned some international recognition for ASU students Alexandra Porter and Rolando Garcia.

They are among 37 undergraduate students from colleges and universities throughout North America to recently receive accolades from the Computing Research Association for demonstrating outstanding computing research skills.

The association promotes undergraduate research, provides resources to faculty to help them give students research training and encourages undergraduates to pursue graduate education and research careers in computing fields.

Porter is a senior in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, majoring in computer science and mathematics, with a minor in music performance.

She was a finalist for one of the top honors bestowed by the Computing Research Association’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Awards program in the category for women at institutions that grant doctoral degrees.

Garcia is a senior majoring in computer science. He earned an honorable mention in the men’s category.

computing research

Alexandra Porter

Both Porter and Garcia have been involved in work in research labs directed by faculty members in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

Each has had support for their projects from the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative.

Porter’s area of interest is theoretical computer science, specifically the design, analysis and engineering of algorithms.

She worked on a nutrition visualization research project with Ross Maciejewski, an assistant professor of computer science, in his Visual Analytics and Data Exploration Research Lab. She created an Android app that enables users to record what they eat and then visualize data about their diets.

The project gave Porter the opportunity to coauthor a research paper titled “A Survey of Personal Nutrition in mHealth Nutrition Apps” that was presented at the international Person Visualization Workshop organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

She is currently working with Andrea Richa, a professor of computer science, on a project involving self-organizing particle systems.

The research focuses on particle systems that can self-organize to solve designated tasks without needing a central control mechanism.

The technique can be used for coating objects for purposes of monitoring and repairing the objects, for forming nanoscale devices used for surgery and for making molecular-scale electronic structures.

Porter coauthored a research paper based on this research that was published in the proceedings of the International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming.

computing research

Rolando Garcia

She also worked with Umit Ogras, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, to create a simulation of an internet-connected self-driving wheelchair.

Porter says these varied accomplishments have made her confident that she is well prepared for her pursuit of a doctoral degree in computer science and a career in research.

Garcia is currently a research aide in Maciejewski’s Visual Analytics and Data Exploration Research Lab. He has been involved in developing technologies to help people understand and work effectively with large sets of data.

He has presented findings from his work at two national research symposiums and at an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers workshop. For the workshop presentation, his research team earned the Visual Analytics Science and Technology Grand Challenge Award for Outstanding Comprehensive Submission.

Last summer Garcia was a research intern for the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the Institute of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked on projects involving technologies used in Deep Learning architectures. Deep Learning is one of a set of machine learning methods based on representations of data.

“My long-term research goal involves studying data structures for achieving fast machine learning at bigger scales,” Garcia says. “The aim is to find out how a computer could become capable of organizing and accessing information so that it can be at least as intelligent as we are.”

















Read More