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Austin Engineering Blitz 2019 Recap

Austin Engineering Blitz 2019 Recap

By Tyler Dube PE, M. ASCE

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In November 2019, the Austin Branch hosted its second annual Engineering Blitz at Kealing Middle School. The event put over 40 volunteer engineers into 6th grade classrooms over a 2-day period to promote the civil engineering profession through hands-on activities, demonstrations, and open discussion. Over 420 students learned about each volunteer’s education and professional background, asked questions about what it takes to become an engineer, and participated in civil-themed activities. 

The activities included a paper bridge and plastic cup tower competition, during which small groups of students competed against each other for the title of  Strongest Bridge or Tallest Tower. For the bridge, students were given 3 sheets of 8.5”x11” paper and 20 identical weights (typically large ¾” nuts, bolts, or washers) with instructions to load a paper bridge spanning a 6” gap between textbooks until failure. Engineers demonstrated how folding the edges of the paper in various shapes increased the bridge’s strength. Students were encouraged to try their own designs with up to 3 sheets of paper. One group achieved failure at 43 weights, more than double the anticipated load!

In the cup tower activity, student groups were issued identical sets of plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks with instructions to build a tower using all the available materials, balancing the cups on top of one another with popsicle sticks used for load distribution  Halfway through the activity, a real life “Change Order” scenario was simulated by issuing additional cups and sticks with the requirement that all materials be utilized.  Students were faced with a dilemma: tear down and rebuild, or add on to their existing tower?  The volunteer engineers circulated amongst groups with yardsticks. Some winning towers exceeded 3’ in height.

The Engineering Blitz was organized by Tyler Dube PE, MASCE, a Kealing Middle School alum (1999-2000) and current ASCE Austin Branch Treasurer-Elect. Kealing administrators Jo Garcia and Dee Gonzales coordinated parental permissions and various volunteer arrangements.  The event has been a huge success two years in a row for volunteers and students alike.  Many volunteers found the Blitz a fun and engaging way to give back to their local community while promoting STEM subjects and the civil engineering profession at one of Austin’s magnet programs. The students enjoyed the activities and participation prizes.

A special thanks goes to the Engineering Blitz volunteers from the ASCE Austin Branch, their names and the firms they represent are listed below:

Aguire & Fields
– Paul Hahn
– Jane Ellen Carter
– Jaine Estrella

Alan Plummer Associates
– Mark Gockowski
– Cynthia Syvarth

ASCE Texas Section
– Lindsay O’Leary

– Kat Lauer

– Francisco Arce
– Lizzie Wilson
– Petina McIntosh

Bowman Consulting
– Margaret King

City of Marble Falls
– Kacey Paul

City of Round Rock
– Juan Enriquez

Civilitude Engineers & Planners
– Athena Combs-Hurtado
– Erika Resendez

– Bradley East

– Laura Friello
– Leanne Cantalupo

– Terry Taylor

HVJ Associates
– Sarvesh Dhakal

– Andrew Domke

– Lily Aung

– Marcelo DaSilva

Mark Craig Consulting
– Mark Craig

Miller Gray
– Sam Shorter

Pape-Dawson Engineers
– Tyler Dube
– Colton Fisher

Quality Schools Austin
– Angie Bealko

The Rios Group
– Travis Isaacson
– Jose Zuniga
– Ryan Chapin

– Glenn Goldstein
– Foroud Moradi

The Rios Group
– Travis Isaacson
– Jose Zuniga
– Ryan Chapin

– Glenn Goldstein
– Foroud Moradi

S&B Infrastructure
– Jason Garza

Self Employed
– Asmita Dahal

– Anamaria Torres
– Nsikanabasi Uko
– Alyssa Campbell
– Erica Koopman-Glass

TenCate Geosynthetics
– Ashley MacMillan

Texas Water Development Board
– Dale Crockett

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