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Symposium Recap: Building Communities Across Borders

Symposium Recap: Building Communities Across Borders

| Click HERE to Learn More about the 2021 Symposium |

The 2019 ASCE Texas Student Symposium gathered over 350 students and professionals from Texas and Mexico from April 10th through 13th in South Padre Island, Texas. The Symposium offered students the opportunity to showcase their year of hard work in the Concrete Canoe, Blue Sky, Mystery Design, Research Poster and Technical Paper competitions, attend technical and career-oriented seminars, interact with potential employers at career fair and networking mixers, and exchange ideas with colleagues from across the state and Mexico. This year’s Symposium was hosted by the ASCE Student Chapter at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) with “Construyendo Comunidades a traves de Fronteras: Building Communities Across Borders” as the event theme. This theme emphasized engineers who serve the public through their role in the professional world by providing new ideas and building communities.


Texas Section volunteers led the planning effort for the 2019 ASCE Texas Student Symposium Career Fair, which offered 20 different agencies and companies a unique opportunity to interact with the brightest students from more than 15 universities over the course of two full days.

In addition to the Career Fair, the Student Chapter at UTRGV worked with professionals to present career-based seminars that included Tips and Tricks for Excel Programming, Email Etiquette, Networking Tips and many additional topics to prepare the students for their professional career. Students attendees even had the opportunity to take a free, professional headshot, sponsored by Hilti.

The UTRGV Student Chapter also worked hard to coordinate technical presentations, such as Communication Skills for Engineers, Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Sustainable Water Use Practices in New Development, and other topics that engaged students and allowed professional attendees the opportunity to earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs).

On Thursday and Friday, April 11-12, students and professionals enjoyed a break in the day with luncheons featuring guest speakers who shared industry knowledge and motivated and inspired students to excel in their careers. Attendees enjoyed a fajita buffet on Thursday while guest speaker, Dr. Ala Qubbaj, Dean – UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science, presented. On Friday, attendees learned from guest speaker Art Clendenin PE, ASCE Texas Section President, while enjoying a delicious seafood-themed buffet.


The social events during the ASCE Texas Student Symposium brought students and professionals together to better build connections and networks in a fun setting. The first social was held Thursday, April 11th, at the Clayton’s Beach Grill. Students and professionals enjoyed a restaurant-style outdoor patio area with live music, food, games and the beach! The social ended with a talented Mariachi band bringing lots of energy and fun dancing to the floor.

The second social, held on Friday, April 12th, at the Schlitterbahn Sea4Ever Rooftop, was a rooftop hangout with a local band featuring one of UTRGV’s own civil engineering students.  Students and professionals had fun listening to the band and enjoyed the rooftop view of the beach as they ate dinner and sipped on aqua fresca in many flavors. 

The Symposium concluded with the annual awards banquet, during which winners were announced and recognized. The awards banquet was held in a business professional setting and was a great way for everyone to learn from each other and for students to celebrate their hard work over the year in preparation for the competitions. Before awards were presented, keynote speaker, Pedro “Pete” Alvarez PE, Pharr District Engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation discussed the need to serve the communities that that we build. He stressed the importance of being involved locally, making your voice heard and building communities outside of the bridges and roadways. Overall, the Symposium social events played an important role in the developing relationships between students and professionals while providing a way for everyone to have fun and learn at the same time.


The Concrete Canoe competition brought together 13 universities from across Texas and Mexico. Competing universities were judged on the display, design paper, oral presentation, and racing of a 20-ft. concrete canoe. Student creativity shined through every part of this competition. The races were held on Saturday, April 13th, at Dolphin Cove on the inland side of South Padre Island. Evaluating each university on display, design paper, and oral presentation alone, The University of Texas at Austin earned First Place Overall and will advance to the national competition, hosted by the ASCE Student Chapter of Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida June 6-9, 2019.


The annual Student Business Meeting was well attended by two undergraduate students from each university in our region as well as by students from guest schools working to start an ASCE Student Chapter. Students at this meeting considered and approved various motions to plan for and improve future Symposiums by talking through how to decrease student costs and increase overall student participation.


The 2020 ASCE Texas Student Symposium will be hosted by the ASCE Student Chapter at The University of Texas Arlington in Arlington, Texas March 4-7, 2020. The Texas Section along with the Dallas and Fort Worth Branches are looking forward to supporting the Student Chapter in their planning efforts!


Concrete Canoe

  1. The University of Texas at Austin
  2. Texas A&M University
  3. The University of Texas at El Paso
  4. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores
  5. Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico
  6. The University of Texas at San Antonio
  7. The University of Texas at Arlington
  8. Lamar University
  9. University of Houston
  10. Texas Tech Univeristy
  11. Texas A&M University-Kingsville
  12. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  13. Universidad La Salle Victoria
  14. The University of Texas at Tyler

Blue Sky

  1. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  2. Angelo Sate University
  3. Texas Tech University

Mystery Design

  1. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  2. The University of Texas at Austin
  3. The University of Texas at Arlington

Concrete Bowling

  1. Texas Tech University Team 1
  2. Texas Tech University Team 2
  3. The University of Texas at Tyler

Concrete Frisbee

  1. Tarleton State University
  2. University of Texas at Arlington
  3. University of Texas at Tyler

Keith McBride Spirit of the Competition Award

  • Texas Tech University – Concrete Canoe

Research Poster

  1. Sara Davila, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  2. Afshin Shamsshooli, The University of Texas at Arlington
  3. Tie
    • Andres Guevara-Nadeau & Jevon Harding, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    • Graham Robertson, The University of Texas at Arlington

Technical Paper

  1. Sylvia Vazquez, University of Houston
  2. Ricardo Alarcon Guerrero, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
  3. Madalyn E. Orozco, Lamar University