The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) Houston Engineering Center (HEC) civil and mechanical engineering students were not fazed by the pandemic. They continued to find ways to engage with the community and volunteer through STEM-related programs virtually.
Alief Popsicle Bridge Competition
HEC partnered with Alief Independent School District in Houston, to host the Alief Popsicle Bridge Competition contest. The contest highlights Alief ISD K-12 student bridges out of standard craft sticks with certain build and support guidelines while allowing Alief ISD students to interact with the HEC and learn basic engineering concepts. HEC engineering students virtually streamed the event and tested each of the 274 registered teams, the largest group in event history.
“Stem can be Fun!”
Building upon the success of this event, HEC also hosted the 2021 Wind Turbine Competition for Alief ISD K-12 students, focusing on wind turbine blades while highlighting other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) concepts, and sustainable energy discussions. The Popsicle Bridge and 2021 Wind Turbine Competitions were creative activities for HEC engineering students that allowed them to bond and generate a sense of service, community involvement, and outreach by showing the next generation that STEM can be fun.
During the pandemic, HEC ASCE students also volunteered and competed at the AIA Sandcastle Competition – a fund-raising event for AIA Houston and ArCH Foundation, that judges the sand sculptures on originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site. The HEC ASCE students joined the ASCE Houston Professional Branch as they competed with over 60 teams, placing 7th place for “Best Traditional Castle”.
In addition, the university earned top honors at the 2021 American Institute of Steel Construction Texas Regional Steel Bridge Competition, placing first in aesthetics and construction economy and second in all other categories – construction speed, stiffness, and structural efficiency. The contest involved collegiate teams overseeing the design and fabrication of a 20-foot-long bridge to support up to 2,500 pounds. The HEC team advanced to nationals which were held virtually in May 2021. They are entering the competition again this year at the 2022 Student Symposium and are currently in the fabrication phase of a completely new design.
UT Tyler Houston Engineering Center students know the importance of getting involved and networking with professionals from all industries. They have obtained various sponsorships from firms such as RS&H, Inc., AmeriTex Pipe & Products, LLC, and ASCE Houston, which are used to further student involvement. For more information on becoming a sponsor click here.
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