STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers holds overall top honors and several individual competition awards from a recent regional conference.
Held recently at Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, the three-day ASCE Deep South Conference involved students from 14 institutions of higher learning in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas competing in five engineering categories.
In addition to overall first place, MSU won the concrete canoe and technical paper competitions. Its teams also placed second and third, respectively, in the quiz bowl and steel bridge competitions, along with fourth in surveying.
The winning canoe team now advances to national competition in June. The MSU craft, named "Dawgy Paddle," features an underwater theme including a hand-painted seascape with a snorkel-equipped Bully and other sea creatures.
Seniors Andrew J. "Andy" Odenthal of Stayton, Ore., and Sarah G. Smith of Huntsville, Ala., co-captains of the canoe team, said the annual competitions are designed to test the students' abilities and subject-area knowledge.
"These competitions are a practical application of what we learn in class," Odenthal said.
Smith added, "We all had to learn time management, leadership, communication skills, and how to take ownership of a project and see it through to the end."
For the canoe event, team members had to develop a concrete mixture and vessel design that could maintain buoyancy with as many as four students on board.
"Typical concrete mixes use rocks and sand, but we used hollow glass beads to make our mixture less dense than water" Odenthal explained. "We then used Styrofoam to mold the concrete and later to transport the canoe safely to competition."
MMC Materials of Starkville provided materials and facilities for the project.
In addition to appearance and durability of the final product, the canoe team was judged on its accompanying technical paper and oral presentation.
The competing watercrafts then were tested in a series of all-men, all-women and co-ed races in which MSU finished first in the co-ed sprint; second, in the men's endurance race.
Odenthal also won the Daniel W. Meade Contest, for his paper titled "Body of Knowledge--Is it Ethical to Associate Credentials with Credibility?" This was his second consecutive win in the competition.
The steel bridge team, led by captain Andrew D. "Drew" Sensing of Madison, designed, fabricated and constructed a scale model of a bridge. Each team's plan was judged for construction speed, costs, lightness, efficiency and stiffness. In addition to finishing third overall, MSU's entry ranked first in stiffness and third in efficiency.
In this year's "mystery event," a quiz bowl competition tested students' readiness for the industry-standard fundamentals of engineering exam. Not told of this event until the conference was under way, school teams had to quickly form teams with members who already were not engaged in other competitions. The MSU team of three juniors and a senior finished second.
The ASCE Deep South Conference is one of 18 regional student conferences sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers each spring.
More than 50 students from the Mississippi State chapter assisted with each project during the year.
All civil engineering majors, 2013 conference participants representing the university included (by hometown):
ARLINGTON, Tenn.--Junior Matthew J. Roddy, the son of Chris and Trish Roddy and a member of the steel bridge team.
BOONEVILLE--Sophomore Robert E. L. "Rob" Garner, a member of the steel bridge team. [Parent names not listed.]
CARTHAGE--Seniors Austin T. Byrd, the son of John and Suzanne Byrd, and Trevor A. Langston, the son of Frank and Joey Langston. Both are members of the surveying team.
CONEHATTA--Senior Hayden Weaver, the son of Christopher and Patty Weaver and a member of the steel bridge team.
GRENADA--Seniors Brent Ashmore, the son of Douglas and Allison Ashmore and a member of the steel bridge team, and Michael Littrell, the son of Michael and Mitzi Littrell and member of both the concrete canoe and quiz bowl teams. Ashmore also is the newly elected MSU ASCE chapter president.
GULFPORT--Junior Katye L. Miller, the daughter of Craig and Phyllis Miller and a member of both the concrete canoe and quiz bowl teams. She also is the newly elected vice president of the MSU ASCE chapter,
HATTIESBURG--Senior Michael L. Sanders, the son of Michael and Silvia Sanders and a member of the steel bridge team.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--Sarah G. Smith, the daughter of John and Lisa Smith .
JACKSON--Sophomore Donovan C. Middlebrook, the son of Theresa Middlebrook  and member of the steel bridge team.
LELAND--Senior Parker Livingston, the son of Darrell and Patricia Livingston and a member of the concrete canoe team.
MADISON--Seniors Mariel G. Colman and Stephanie J. Sigman, both members of the concrete canoe team, and Andrew D. "Drew" Sensing. Coleman is the daughter of Paul and Susan Colman; Sigman, the daughter of John and Pamela Sigman; and Sensing, the son of John and Terry Sensing.
McCOMB--Senior Travis J. Mauthe, the son of Kenneth and Jamie Mauthe and a member of the surveying team.
MERIDIAN--Senior Colby Shumate, the son of William Shumate and Kimberly Shumate and a member of the concrete canoe team.
MUNFORD, Tenn.--Junior Taylor Smith, the daughter of Richard and Jammie Smith and a member of the steel bridge team.
STARKVILLE--Senior Landon A. Byars, a surveying team member. [Parent names not given.]
STAYTON, Ore.--Senior Andy J. Odenthal, the son of Paul and Janet Odenthal.
TUPELO--Senior Rachael E. Ivancic, the daughter of Milan and Kristy Ivancic and a member of the quiz bowl and concrete canoe teams.
WIGGINS--Senior Clinton R. Carlisle, the son of Shelby and Teresa Carlisle and a member of the steel bridge team.
For more information about Mississippi State University, visit www.msstate.edu/.