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ASCE Sandcastle Competition 2022


ASCE Sandcastle Competition 2022

by Rebecca L. Cummins PE
ASCE Texas Section First Year Director at Large

December 2022

The 34th Annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sandcastle Competition was held on August 20, 2022 at East Beach in Galveston, Texas. About 100 members of the Houston Branch and their families gathered in Galveston to take part in the competition.

Competition day started early Saturday morning, where the ASCE team members set up the construction equipment and the day’s supply of food and drinks within their designated construction site. At 9:30, half an hour before the competition started, the team co-chairs huddled everyone up for a team meeting to discuss the design, sequence of construction, safety, and other housekeeping items. At 10, the ASCE team members and their 30 competitors began shoveling the 15 cubic yards of provided sand. The teams had five hours to complete their sand sculptures and were allowed to utilize forms, molds, and other tools to aid in construction. Albert Dorantes, the second year Sandcastle Team co-chair for the Houston Branch, mentioned that his favorite part of the competition is collaborating with his civil engineering teammates. “We come together to create something from basically nothing. It’s great to see the sandcastle design come to life after having worked with the team to plan it out from scratch.”

Earlier in the year during the planning phase, the team decided to enter the Traditional Sandcastle category. The 2021 team had a wildly successful Castle Invaders theme that won Best Traditional Sandcastle. Their theme played on the Space Invaders video game by adding traditional elements of sandcastle building, such as brick textures, to the site. The team agreed to move forward with a Pac-Man maze design one of the team members had sketched out for the 2022 competition, which also planned to incorporate traditional castle elements.

The team’s planning phase began around April and culminated in a team carving practice held in July in Galveston. Carving practice is a chance for new team members to gain experience with construction prior to the competition and to get to know some of the more experienced team members. “My first year attending the Sandcastle event was in 2018 with the ASCE team,” Albert mentioned. “Two of my coworkers told me how much fun the event was and that it was a great opportunity to meet others in the industry.”

The last hour of the competition was a frenzy of carving as the team added the four ghosts and the star of the show, Pac-Man, to the site. After time was called, the team cheered A-S-C-E as they celebrated the completion of a successful sand sculpture. ASCE’s goal has always been to have fun first, so while the team was unsuccessful in winning their category or the Gold Bucket first place award, we met our true goal as the feedback from the team members about this year’s competition was overwhelmingly positive.

Thank you to each of the participants and supporters of the ASCE Houston Branch Sandcastle team; we look forward to another great competition in 2023!