UMKC Big Beam Team Wins Big at Nationals!

Over the summer, The UMKC Big Beam Team secured 10th place nationally with 52 points at the 2017 PCI Big Beam Competition. It was a very close competition. Only 9 points separated UMKC and the first place team.
 
Team member Scott Jackson, enjoyed his experience at the competition. “The award means a lot to the team. It feels good that we were recognized for the work that was put in. Student organizations can provide completely different experiences than the classroom can. This competition was a good way for me to learn more about an area that I am interested in.” Team member Akash Iwalekar said the competition helped him with problem solving skills. “Being able to experience the whole process of designing a big beam followed by constructing it, and testing it, gave me the chance to witness problems and learn what kind of approach was best to solve them and get the desired results.”
 
The team is very happy with their results and would like to thank the alumni who gave a generous donation that made their testing and participation possible. The students would also like to thank UMKC SCE and their faculty advisor Dr. Ganesh Thiagarajan.

Alumni Q+A: Vickie Johnson

Full Name: Vickie Johnson
Job Title: Program Supplier Quality Engineer
Employer: Raytheon Missile Systems
Graduation Year: 1987
Degree: BS Electrical Engineering
Current City: Tucson, AZ
Hometown: Carthage, MS
 
What initially attracted you to UMKC? 
After getting married during my junior year in college, we moved from Mississippi to Kansas City to find work.  I found work at Bendix as a lab technologist and immediately started the process of getting back into school. UMKC’s engineering school was very accessible and the engineering program was exactly what I needed. UMKC personnel made it very easy for me to get back into school. Everyone was so helpful, including my employer.

What is something that you wish was available to you as a student that current students at UMKC have access to? 
As a student who worked full time, I would often wish that I could join study groups. A semi-formal program for establishing study groups would be very helpful to all students but especially for non-traditional students. Today’s technology and social media makes it easier but safety for students is a concern, so it would be great if UMKC could lead and develop this type of program.
 
What drew you to Engineering?
Coming from a small town in Mississippi, I had no idea what an engineer was, but I loved math.  A math professor at Jackson State University told me about the Pre-engineering program which I joined.  This program was to study for two years at Jackson State and transfer to an engineering school to complete the remaining three years. Once I began taking electrical engineering courses, I was hooked.   
 
How has the field of engineering changed since you started working?
It’s changed tremendously. With the advent of powerful processors and the exponential computer technology, it has changed immeasurably.  I started with programming on cards using FORTRAN and a huge computer that filled a room. Imagine that!  Speaking of imagination – not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the world of engineering as it is today! Knowledge is all around us.  The challenge will be to harness and use this knowledge appropriately and at the right time.  Ethics and morality have become much more important than when I started working as an engineer. As well as a lot more things, i.e. environmental protection, information classifications, how you write and say things, just to name a few. Most of the things impacting the field of engineering have nothing to do with the actual ‘art’ of engineering. Therefore, today’s students must do a balancing act to take it all in.  Programs to help today’s engineering students cope with stress are much needed in today’s engineering environments.
 
What advice do you have for students entering the field?
I would advise them to stay in school about two to three years longer after achieving their Bachelor’s degree.  Study for and achieve an engineering Master’s degree as well as a minor is an area that impacts engineering (psychology, ethics, human resources, environmental health, math, etc.) or even a juris doctorate degree.  Because once you hit the working world, the career trajectory may not bend easily around additional schooling plans.  Do this while you are young and have the time and the energy.  And remember these things: 1) treat everyone fairly – no matter who they are, 2) always be honest, 3) be firm – but kind, 4) ‘change’ is a constant, so get used to it & learn to love it and, 5) never mistreat or take advantage of anyone because karma is real.  And always remember to enjoy the journey!

Top 10 “Make In Your Dorm Room” Recipes

One of our SCE Student Ambassadors put together a list of some of their favorite foods that you can make right in your dorm room!

1) Mug Cakes:

We’ll start with something sweet since I love dessert! Did you know you can bake yourself a delicious cake in your microwave and have it ready in minutes? No oven required? This chocolate peanut butter cake is definitely one of my favorite things to make! Recipe

2) Nachos:

Pile some tortilla chips on a plate, top with shredded cheese, add any other favorite toppings (like pico de gallo or refried beans), microwave for a minute, and BAM! You have nachos. You’re welcome. Recipe

3) Avocado Toast:

This is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast. Toast your bread, put a few slices of avocado on top, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

4) Chocolate Peanut Butter Apple Slices:

Chocolate and Peanut Butter make everything taste good. Spread some peanut butter on apple slices and top with some chocolate chips or chocolate drizzle and you’ve got a yummy snack.

5) Scrambled Eggs:

For less than $1 you can make yummy scrambled eggs with a mug and a microwave! Magic! Recipe

6) Breakfast Cookie:

Because there is nothing better than sweets for breakfast. Recipe

7) Mug Mac & Cheese:

You can do so much better than the powdered cheese from Kraft. Recipe

8) Baked Potato:

This couldn’t be easier. Microwave your potato, add your favorite fillings, and you’re done. (And it will probably taste better than the food you could be getting at the dining hall.)

9) Ramen:

If you haven’t mastered the art of making Ramen in the microwave instead of on the stove-top, you better learn. Recipe

10) Mexican Quinoa:

This one requires a little more effort and a stove, but the UMKC dorms have kitchens and supplies that you can borrow. This is easily one of my favorite recipes of all time! Recipe

Dr. Baek-Young Choi Explores the Internet of Things at NASA

Dr. Baek-Young Choi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at UMKC. She is a faculty fellow at the NASA Marshall Space and Flight Center and spent the previous summer researching wireless communication methods.

 

What is your area of interest?

My interests lie in the broad area of algorithms and systems development for diverse types of communication networks and cloud computing. My recent research has been focused on wireless communication methods for Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications and Software-Defined Networking. My work is around figuring out how to make all these physical devices talk to each other in a computing space. I imagine 10 years ago very few of you would have guessed we could one day talk to our watches and send a message to our mom, but that is happening now, called the internet of things – taking ordinary objects and making them extraordinary through connectivity.
 
How does that connect to your time at NASA?

As a faculty fellow at the NASA Marshall Space and Flight Center in Huntsville AL, I am working on reliable wireless communication schemes for wireless sensors around spacecrafts or space habitats in the Electronic Systems Branch of the Space Systems Department. Basically, I help figure out how a sensor on one side of the space craft collects and relays information to another side of the space craft. Unlike earth, where wireless technology work seamlessly, space creates a unique environment with unique needs.

Have you worked with them previously?

There are numerous needs of sensing in space applications, such as temperature, humidity, pressure and radiation, air and water quality, and crew’s vital signs. The benefits of wireless sensors include flexible placement, changes in location and number of sensors, enabled data gathering from a challenging area, faster deployment, and reduced weight of the spacecraft. However, besides the inevitable long-range communication with the Earth, wireless technology has not been deployed much in space systems. It is because the space environment poses unique and extreme challenges such as radiation from solar events and cosmic rays, extreme temperatures – both hot and cold – depending on its location relative to the Sun and the lack of the insulating atmosphere of the Earth. In the midst of the harsh operational environment, reliability is a primary concern of NASA’s missions, like the well-known quote, “Failure is not an option!” My reliable communication scheme was shaped while trying to understand the space environment and the physics of wireless communication as well as from the previous research experiences in IoT and software-defined approach.

 What were you hoping to accomplish over this summer?

This summer has been a truly enriching experience for me. After the Apollo program that accomplished sending humans to the Moon in the 60’s and early 70’s, NASA put their primary focus on space stations (Skylab, Spacelab and International Space Station) and shuttle (Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis) programs for three decades. The space shuttle program has now ended, and scientific discoveries through the International Space Station are being continued with the assistance of the commercial sector. NASA now embarks on another bold exploration mission to send humans to Mars. I believe this is a particularly exciting time for technologists, as the mission requires overcoming unprecedented challenges. I look forward to continuing working with them and involving my students in investigating the technical issues that NASA faces.

Throughout this summer, in addition to meeting and working with people with similar research tracks, I have been privileged to meet many NASA scientists and engineers from very different and unique fields, including rocket scientists who develop propulsion systems; chemical engineers who turn urine into drinkable water; mechanical engineers who build gigantic space vehicle modules; physicists who design solar sailing satellites; and various scientists who analyze and study the data collected from space. I find NASA to be an incredible interdisciplinary organization where people from all walks of science and engineering imaginable come together for massive and complex missions. Most of all, I am impressed by their openness and passion for their work.

How might this experience play into your future work?

Prior to coming to NASA, I have been focusing on pretty earthly matters. Now, I feel I am very deep in space mode. For instance, I named my family vehicles as SLS and Orion after NASA’s space launch vehicle and spacecraft, respectively, that are under development for its journey Mars. 🙂

SCE’s Three Time NASA Intern Extraordinaire

UMKC undergraduate student Kati Williams has been interning at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. She shared more about her work, her plans for the future, and advice she would give to other undergraduate SCE students!

What kind of work do you do as an intern at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center?

I assist in the software development and verification of the human rated space flight software for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The team I have been working with consists of 20 software developers during a critical release phase of the flight software. I use a tool called ARTEMIS-MAESTRO, which is a rocket simulator used for integration testing for the SLS.

During the first part of my internship, I was able to create a lab manual, which documents how to use the system for different software tests. I have also created a tool which analyzes the results of the flight software unit tests and outputs a simple one page summary. This helps the software developers by giving them a snapshot of the results rather than them having to dig through several pages of reports. Hilariously enough, I have also learned how to use a slide-rule as a side project.

What got you interested in this type of work?

Aerospace has always been interesting to me. I think it’s very important to continue to send people into space because of the technological advances that come from the space program. When I started my engineering career, I knew I wanted to work in an industry that I was passionate about, so NASA is a perfect fit for me.

How did you get connected to this internship?

This is my third summer at the Marshall Space Flight Center. This summer, I am here as an intern for Jacobs (a NASA contractor), but the first two internships I worked as an intern directly for NASA. For my first and second NASA internships, I applied through the “One Stop Shopping Initiative” (OSSI) website and had a nice recommendation letter written by a UMKC faculty member. My mentor during my second NASA internship worked for Jacobs and I was impressed by the company, so I asked him to put in a good word for me.

What have you learned from this experience?

This internship has given me insight into how complex software systems are developed. It’s interesting to see how small changes to one part of the system will affect another part because not everything goes according to plan 100% of the time. Being flexible and adaptable helped me as I progressed in my projects this summer. Learning how to take criticism gracefully was equally important.

Why do you think internships are important for undergraduate students?

School and the professional world are very different things. I think school is important for understanding the theory behind the processes used in the real world. I think internships are important because they help bridge the gap between theory and application and better prepare students to enter the job market.

What made you choose UMKC?

I was looking for an engineering school which was ABET accredited, had the degree I wanted, and was located near Kansas City. UMKC met all of my requirements.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m planning to graduate in the spring of 2018 and I will be looking for jobs working with satellites or embedded systems within the aerospace industry.

What advice do you have for other undergraduate SCE students?

The best advice ever given to me is from a UMKC faculty member. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Sometimes tasks seem monumental, but if they are broken down into smaller pieces they become much more manageable.

Alumni Q+A: Kiran Chelluri

Kiran Chelluri
President, Chelsoft Solutions Co.
Class of 2001
Current City: Olathe, KS  Hometown: Hyderabad, India

What initially attracted you to UMKC?
At the time of my application, I already had family calling Kansas City home. However, it was the smaller campus that ultimately attracted me to UMKC. I enjoyed the balance of a big city with a smaller campus community.

Tell us about an average day at your job:
As the President of Chelsoft Solutions Co., a leading information technology consulting firm headquartered here in Kansas City, I wear many hats on most days. I deal with leadership issues and strategic visioning, marketing and sales, client and vendor management, and organizational growth.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?
My Masters of Science in Computer Science set up the foundation for my career. UMKC has a curriculum that matches with what the industry wants to see in graduates. I launched my career working for the Sprint Corporation. Their headquarters in the Kansas City metropolitan area allows for a lot of hiring opportunities for graduates. However, as the recession hit, Sprint Co. went through a period of layoffs that included me. This was the opportunity that really helped my career take off. I took it as my chance to start my own business.

What drew you to Computer Science?  
Computer Science has so much that is still unexplored and yet to be invented.  The field is always evolving and really encompasses all that is our future.  I like to be associated with cutting edge technologies. It gives me great pride to know that my work is part of building the innovations that will define the next ten, twenty, thirty, etc. years.

How do you keep up with the rapidly changing field of technology?  
I read lots of magazines, subscribe to newsletters, and associate with technology groups. To stay up to date with Kansas City and general business news I follow Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Success Magazine, Fortune, and Ingrams.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?
Be passionate about what you are learning. Technology is still in infancy. Question the status quo and try to be creative and do new things. There are so many problems that can be solved.  Find your niche and most importantly, take action.

Alumni Q+A: Thomas Kimes

Thomas Kimes
Senior Stormwater Engineer, Water Services Department, City of Kansas City, Missouri
Class of 1987
Current City: Kansas City, MO Hometown: Kansas City, MO

Tell me about an average day at your job.

My work is highly varied. Sometimes I am a designer and sometimes I am leading a project team. I may be visiting sites to formulate projects or visiting a construction project to evaluate progress. Occasionally, I travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate for water resources infrastructure.

How did UMKC prepare you for your career?

One of the greatest benefits of attending UMKC was the opportunity to interact with people who were already working in the field. Whether it be my fellow students or my instructors, they typically could give examples or share experiences they had on actual projects. It prepared me to understand the reality of the profession I would be entering.

What project have you worked on of which you are most proud?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on many of the projects that help shape Kansas City – the Kansas City Streetcar, the Liberty Memorial Museum, Blue River Flood Control, and Brush Creek Flood Control. I’ve been very fortunate.

What drew you to Engineering?

When I was in junior high school, a group of college students did a presentation on engineering. It made a lasting impact.

How did you decide what area you wanted to work in?

My original interest was in environmental engineering. My second job was for the Corps of Engineers, so I developed an interest in waterways.

What societies and groups are you a part of and how do you feel that they have helped you professionally?

I’ve been a member of the Alumni Association for years and I feel it’s important for practitioners to reach out to students.

What do you love about the engineering community in Kansas City?

Being a center for engineering, there is a lot of career opportunities locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who are at the top of their field.

What advice do you have for students entering the field?

Engineering is not a job – it’s a career you build over time. You start with your education, but continue learning and growing for decades. Every day is an opportunity to learn something, to discover something, to develop an idea, and an opportunity to contribute something positive to the world. Your work will directly impact people’s lives. Engineering is a noble profession.

Transforming America’s Roads

Recently, Dr. John Kevern’s proposal entitled “Evaluation of Penetrating Sealers Applied to Saw Cut Faces in Concrete Pavement Joints” was approved for funding by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation policy research program. Dr. Kevern shared more about his proposal and how he got involved with this project.

Tell us more about the project.

For the last six years, the WisDOT, as part of the high-performance concrete (HPC) pavement standard special provision, has specified the use of a penetrating concrete sealer be applied to the saw cut faces in the joints. The HPC pavements on the Interstate 94 North-South corridor and the Interstate 41 corridor from Oshkosh to Green Bay have received this joint treatment. The specification requires a silane or siloxane-based concrete penetrating sealer be applied as soon as possible after the sawing operation is complete. To date, a variety of different products have been used, a number of different application methods have been employed, and the rates of application have been variable. In addition, the construction process and the construction inspection have not been uniform or consistent statewide. Therefore, there is no assurance that WisDOT is accomplishing the goal of distress free joints and longer life of the pavement. Finally, there has been no assessment by WisDOT on whether there are benefits and cost effectiveness to doing this work. The goals of this project are to (1) evaluate the concrete sealers used to date and the construction methods employed to determine if the achievement of sealing concrete pavement saw cut faces is accomplished with effectiveness and uniformity; (2) Assess the work done to date to determine if we are achieving the goal of longer lasting concrete pavement joints; and (3) Develop standard specification language for applying penetrating sealers to concrete pavement saw cuts along with construction inspection guidelines.

How did you get connected to this project?

I currently have a research project with the Wisconsin DOT on a related topic. We are partnering for this project with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville which is where I did my undergraduate degree.

Why did those sections of the interstate receive the joint treatment?

The highly traveled sections of the interstate in Wisconsin are constructed using high performance pavement. In essence they spend a little bit more money to hopefully get longer service life. Along with better pavement quality the DOT has been applying a super hydrophobic water proofing material.

Who is funding the research?

The Wisconsin Highway Research Program (WHRP), basically the research side of the DOT.

Is the goal of the project to determine the best method and sealer for these joints and make that a best practice for the state? For the country?

The primary goal is to evaluate if the state of Wisconsin is getting better service using the water proofing coatings. We will be evaluating different kinds and application techniques. The research will be distributed and although the state of Wisconsin is funding the work, all states will benefit.

Best-case scenario, how much time could these improvements add to the lifespan of concrete pavements?

Best case scenario they will double the lifespan of concrete pavement.

Victoria Wu Takes Her Robotics Skills From UMKC to NASA!

UMKC grad and NASA intern Victoria Wu recently shared more about her research with her mentor Dr. Rao, how she got involved in robotics, all of the cool things she gets to work on at NASA, and more!

1. Congratulations on your many accolades! Tell us more about your research with Dr. Rao.

During my junior year, I was an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Rao focusing on the area of query optimization for federated SPARQL queries using cardinality estimates.

SPARQL is a query language for RDF (resource description framework) data. RDF is a neat, machine readable way to represent knowledge in the form of a triplet (subject-predicate-object) such as sky – has_color – blue. A wide variety of information, including abstract concepts, can be encoded in this way, forming a giant graph made of potentially interrelated statements from various sources, or endpoints. Federated SPARQL queries can gather RDF data from several databases across a network, providing a powerful tool to aggregate data from various endpoints. Optimizing the queries formed can result in faster execution time. The work I did focused on reordering service calls to different endpoints using cardinality estimates, or assumptions about the number of “answers” to a query.

2. How did you get involved in robotics?

I have to thank one of my classmates, Sarah Withee, for getting me started with robotics. It was at her persistent invitation as the software lead that I finally joined the UMKC IEEE robot team late my freshman year. The robot team was a great way to get involved in an engineering project, from contest description and robot requirements, to development, integration, and testing. It was also a fantastic environment to get experience working both in a large multidisciplinary team, as well as a smaller subteam (software and hardware team). And finally, it was incredibly fun! I’m extremely grateful for the experiences I had with my teammates and the wonderful support of Mrs. Debby Dilks, our robot team sponsor/coach at the time.

3. What was your experience like at the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebrating Women in Computing Conference?

I had the opportunity to present a poster there thanks to my undergraduate research advisor Dr. Praveen Rao. It was a wonderful experience to see so many others like me, that shared my interests. Normally in a CS/tech degree, there are only a handful of women students, but to see so many all at once, and especially to see women industry and academia leaders who had already gone ahead, was very inspiring.

There was a sense of camaraderie that made it easier to meet and talk to others. I’m happy that I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people through this conference. I think that is the most valuable thing I got from my experience at GHC – the relationships that were made. I highly recommend for everyone to attend at least once. They do offer scholarships that you can apply for.

4. I hear you’re an intern at NASA! What kind of work do you do there?

I just started last spring as a Pathways intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the science data processing (587) branch. One of the projects I worked on was for RRM3 (Robotic Refueling Mission Phase 3), starting development on a CFS (Core Flight System) application in C for interfacing with and configuring a wireless access point, and passing along video telemetry. It was my first industry/non academia internship, and it was a great learning experience for me. I got to look at the project requirements document to see what was expected of my app, do development work with those requirements, test on different platforms, and learn their build environment. It was a great place to work, and I’m really happy I had this opportunity. I highly recommend applying for NASA Pathways (co-op) internships through USAJobs for those interested in working here after college; you can also apply for internships through NASA’s OSSI website.

5. What advice would you give to other women who are beginning to pursue their degree in computer science?

My main advice is to spend time thinking about what your career/life goals are, and then take every action you can to get closer to that goal. If academia and research sounds interesting, apply for REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates), funded summer long research programs at various universities in a wide variety of topics. Conducting longer term research as an undergraduate research assistant is also a great way to get experience. If you want to go into industry, pursue internships at companies and ask classmates and professors about opportunities or people they know that work at companies similar to the ones you want to work for.

I would also encourage seeking leadership roles in student clubs and extracurricular activities that interest you. They are a great way to develop soft skills and build relationships with other students and professors. When I served as secretary, then chair for our ACM student chapter (Association for Computing Machinery), I got to develop my public speaking and networking skills. I also greatly benefited from the support and encouragement of our student chapter sponsor, Professor Brian Hare.

If this field is something that you like, and enjoy doing, seek out and pursue as many related opportunities as possible, keep trying, and don’t be discouraged – it’s easier to be at peace when you know you did your best, whatever the outcome.

6. What made you choose UMKC?

I attended UMKC because of its affordability as a public school, scholarships offered, and its location nearby. It was also a good size for me – not too small, but also not too big where you get lost in a sea of students. The school size makes it much easier to get involved in extra curricular clubs.

7. What are your plans for the future?

After I complete my master’s, I hope to return to Goddard full time. From there I look forward to working on more neat projects!

UMKC Steel Bridge Team Soars at Nationals!

The UMKC Steel Bridge Team received 2nd place in 1 of 6 subcategories and placed 33rd out of 43 teams at the 2017 National Student Steel Bridge Competition! Team members Jon Daldalian and Evan Jones shared more about their experience at the competition.

Congratulations on your victories at Nationals! Tell us more about your experience there.

Jon: Our team tied for 1st place in the stiffness category at this year’s National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC). We were awarded second place after losing the tiebreaker to Tongji University from Shanghai, China. I don’t have the words to describe what it feels like to place at the national competition. Our team had a running joke throughout the year regarding placing in a national category because it seemed like such a far fetched goal. Ultimately, the attention to detail and quality of the team’s design and fabrication made the difference. This award makes all the sleepless nights and early mornings well worth the sacrifice.

Evan: Nationals was what the entire team had worked tirelessly towards the entire year and being able to participate was an opportunity of a lifetime. The competition pulled 43 teams from a pool of 251 different universities who competed at regional levels. Given such a large filter, to be able to even participate at the national tournament was a huge honor for the team, and to leave with some hardware was an even bigger one.

What have you learned from this experience?

Jon: This experience has taught me to never sell myself or my team short. Although our team wasn’t the largest and our fabrication equipment wasn’t the fanciest, we were able to create a simple well-built bridge that was stiffer than any of the top engineering programs throughout the world. No matter the odds, it only takes hard work and dedication to compete among the best.

Evan: I learned that how you build something is just as important as the design itself. Steel Bridge is unique because it forces our team to not only come up with a design, but to also be able to build it ourselves and then load test it at competition to prove its design. The activity constantly forced me to ask “How can this design be implemented?” “Is a less efficient design better if it can constructed easily?” This type of first hand design (and build) experience is something that is immensely important for young engineers to have.

What does receiving this award mean to you and your team?

Jon: UMKC has such a rich and successful history participating in the Steel Bridge competition. Receiving these awards at the regional and national competitions makes us feel proud to count ourselves among the many great engineers who came before us. More than anything, it felt amazing to listen as the announcers read the University of Missouri – Kansas City aloud for all the competitors to hear. Our hope is that these awards can once again solidify UMKC’s dominance in our future conferences and national appearances.

Evan: Hearing “University of Missouri-Kansas City” announced at nationals was what the team needed to prove that we still can go toe-to-toe with any school in the nation, and we’re excited to prove that again next year.

What do you have planned next year for Steel Bridge?

Jon: For the upcoming 2017-2018 Steel Bridge team, we plan to focus on growing our younger member involvement. Our current team captain, Mario Gutierrez, was a freshman throughout last year’s competition. The returning graduate students plan to teach Mario, and all other underclassmen, everything we can about the process of designing and fabricating a steel bridge within the rules. Once again, our main goal is to make UMKC a strong Steel Bridge contender within the regional and national competitions.

Evan: The primary focus will be growing the team. With key team members returning and underclassman already taking on leadership roles for the next year, we hope to ensure that this past year was not a one-off year, but rather the revival of a nationally competitive team. While the rules do not come out until early August, the team is modeling designs for bridges based off of rules from many different years. Furthermore, using the few extra materials we do have from last year, the team is still practicing its fabrication skills. While we did place in one category, we still have a lot of hard work to do to close the gap in others, and we’re excited for the challenge.

Why do you think it’s important for students to get involved with teams and organizations like Steel Bridge?

Jon: Student organizations allow young engineers to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom. Although faculty advisers provided useful input throughout the year, the bulk of decision making was done by student members. As a young engineer, these experiences are crucial because it necessitates initiative and teamwork among peers. These skills are arguably the most important for career advancement and learning them early can make all the difference.

Evan: It teaches students that engineering does not stop when something is drawn. It is one thing to design something, it is another to be able to design something that is easy to make, economical, and still safe.