In the spirit of MidPac

Once again the 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Mid-Pacific Conference (MidPac) got its fair share of spirit and heart from the civil engineering students from Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering.

“Our team brought home the spirit bell, an award voted on by all of the teams for the most spirited school, for the second year in a row!,” said Dr. Stillmaker, assistant professor for the Civil and Geomatics Engineering Department and this year’s MidPac Advisor. “The actions of these students truly embodied what it means to be a team. They did an excellent job representing Fresno State in terms of both their technical abilities and professionalism.”

The group of more than 50 students traveled to Chico State in April to compete against 13 colleges in seven areas including the geowall, steel bridge, water treatment, water research, Mead paper on ethics, mini games and the concrete canoe.


After the competition, Dr. Stillmaker wrote a summary to faculty that read:

“The geowall placed first in aesthetics (out of 9) – it really is beautiful! The steel bridge: with fabrication finishing only a couple days before the competition, this team had very limited time to practice building their bridge. Nevertheless, in competition they successfully completed construction within the allotted time. Water treatment: multiple schools verbally expressed interest in their design and were impressed by the height of their filter (the tallest of all the schools).  Water Research: Roshanak Farshidpour represented Fresno State and Mead Paper on Ethics: Elizabeth Berry represented Fresno State and placed 3rd (out of 11). MiniGames: 1st place in concrete bowling 2nd place in Tug of War.”


The Water Treatment Team placed in the top three for their poster board presentation and the Concrete Canoe Team placed fifth overall (out of nine teams) and first out of all the CSU campuses competing.

“This is a testimony to our students’ excellent design work,” Dr. Stillmaker said. “They completed all of the races without sinking and made it to the finals in the coed sprint!”

In order to develop an effective and useful canoe, the Concrete Canoe Team began their research in the summer of 2016 on past winning concrete canoe designs.

“The focus of this study was the dimensions of their hull design, the methods they used for quality control and assurance for the thickness of each canoe, and demolding processes that had proven themselves to help achieve the title of champion,” civil engineering student and concrete canoe participant, Kyrill Buckalew said.

Then, Structural Analysis Captain, Nicole Mahoney, created a spreadsheet that compiled all the dimensions, then Hull Design Captain, Clayton Endes, narrowed down the design.

“He took this spreadsheet and created six different possibilities that would be compared against each other. He then taught himself a software program that would analyze the hydrodynamic properties of each design,” Buckalew explained.

The captains then voted on one specific design for their 2017 MidPac competition.

“From the start of design a new hull, we knew that a new mold in which the canoe would be constructed around, and cured on would have to be produced. Advice on how to accomplish this was sought out from a prior canoe project manager, Eric Gudiño, who recommended Monster City Studios for the job.”

Monster City Studios spent nearly 23-hours constructing foam pieces that would later be glued together, sanded and coated by the captains.

“This casting will allow this mold to be used by future teams for as long as the same design is to be used.”

Mix design captain, Regina Barton, worked to alter the 2016 mix design to meet the new concrete canoe design standards. Buckalew says she devoted many hours to researching alternatives that could prove to be beneficial and she chose lightweight sand.

“She decided that lightweight sand would be the best alternative,” he said.

And, that lightweight sand helped them to gain momentum for next year’s MidPac competition as they continue to learn from their designs and materials.

“Getting first place out of all the CSU’s is super exciting,” Concrete Canoe Rowing Captain and Lyles College MidPac Coordinator, Jasbir Kaur said. “It really shows how much hard work we put in and how we have improved over the years.”

She says the experience of MidPac really made an impression on her and has signed up for another year as MidPac coordinator.

“As coordinator, I help make sure everything is on track, we are staying within the budget, arrange accommodations, handle the paperwork and make sure everyone has all the resources they need to be successful,” Kaur explained. I was the quiet student and now I’m more open. I can share my opinions and communicate more effectively both personally and professionally. I truly have enjoyed all the hard work and I’ve met some great friends.”

Kaur encourages all civil engineering students to sign up and be a part of the MidPac Team. Even at the freshman level.

“All teams help each other out and you learn more from research and application than you would an actual class,” she said. “Join, and the sooner the better.”

Research on the 2018 concrete canoe will begin this summer. Students can join in and find out more by emailing fsmidpacteams@gmail.com. Watch the ASCE Student Chapter’s 2017 MidPac Video.