In life, we don’t often look beneath the surface, taking infrastructure for granted. So much of our hectic, bustling daily life relies on an underlying framework we seldom think about. Thankfully, Saint Martin’s University is training the next generation of engineers to keep our country’s infrastructure healthy and strong.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) spotlights many uses of its trade. “Civil engineering touches us throughout our day. Think of a civil engineer when you: Turn on your tap to take a shower or drink clean water. Flick on your lights and open your refrigerator. Drive to work on roads and bridges through synchronized traffic lights. Take mass transit or take a flight for a vacation. Toss your empty coffee cup in the recycling bin.”

Saint Martin's University ASCE bridge loading zone
On behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Institute of Steel Construction, the Conference will host nearly 500 engineering students and educators. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University ASCE

Saint Martin’s University’s Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering has produced nearly 1,500 graduates who have gone on to successful careers around the city, state and globe. Over the course of the weekend of April 11-13, the University will join the ranks of other renowned educational programs by hosting the 2019 Pacific Northwest ASCE and AISC Student Conference.

During the conference, students and faculty from across the Northwest will engage in friendly competition with long-lasting, real-world results. This three day ASCE and American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) event is a fun way to put years of learning, theory, and practice to the test.

“Over 400 engineering students from colleges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Nevada, and British Columbia will converge on the Saint Martin’s campus to compete in events such as steel bridge building and testing, concrete canoe races, surveying, and environmental engineering competitions,” says Dr. Jill Walsh, assistant professor of civil engineering and ASCE faculty advisor.

But more than just attending, Saint Martin’s engineering students get hands-on experience in a variety of things. “The conference is organized and managed by Saint Martin’s students,” explains Walsh. “The entire campus has contributed, including students from the biology and business programs. My hope for Saint Martin’s students is that they enjoy themselves, learn valuable lessons about the effort of organizing an event with so many parts—effectively project management—and can take pride in their hard work.”

SMU Engineering Conference 2019 concrete canoes
This conference features the ever-popular concrete canoe competition as well as displays of bridge design and more. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University ASCE

Hanna Hoffman, engineering student and conference chair, discussed how excited she is to see that planning come to fruition when the conference opens. “I am proud to chair such a remarkable team here at Saint Martin’s University. We are in our final preparation stage, and we can almost see the finish line. I cannot wait for April 11th to arrive and the fun to begin.”

Much of the weekend is open to the public as well, though some events require preregistration and tickets. Concrete canoe races will be held at nearby Long Lake on Saturday, April 13, while canoe displays, bridge building and testing, and more are hosted at the school’s Marcus Pavilion and Charneski Recreation Center on Friday, April 12.

Saturday night is an awards ceremony and banquet showcasing the students’ work and celebrating the future of the field. Tickets to the banquet and keynote speaker are $25 and include dinner and program registration. This year’s guest is Holly Bartelt, senior program and accounts manager at the Denver-based Bridges to Prosperity. Their group has a simple mission: “Almost 1 billion people around the world don’t have safe access to critical resources like health care, education, or employment due to an impassable river. With a single innovation, we are able to impact households across multiple dimensions.”

Saint Martin's University ASCE enviro photos
Come support students working to build roads, cities, and infrastructure. Photo courtesy: Saint Martin’s University ASCE

The American Society for Civil Engineering began in 1852 and the American Institute of Steel Construction started in 1921. Midway between those two, Saint Martin’s University opened its doors to teach, instruct, and help students “learn to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others through the interaction of faith, reason, and service.”

Come support students working to build roads, cities, and infrastructure. Where else will you find bridges of the future soaring next to a flotilla of concrete canoes? Download a printable map of the Saint Martin’s campus for parking, building, and banquet locations. A full schedule, volunteer info, donation portal, and hotel details are available on the Conference homepage.

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