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Missouri students win fourth ASCE Geo-Institute wall competition

News | June 1, 2009 | By:

Engineering students from the University of Missouri–Columbia (UM-C) took top honors at the 2009 ASCE/Geo-Institute event in March in Orlando. Teams from 13 colleges and universities were entered.

Drexel University took second place honors with California Polytechnic State University–Pomona, in its first appearance, taking third. Defending champion Louisiana State University placed fourth. This was Missouri’s fourth win in the GeoCompetition.

The North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS) was again a sponsor of the competition. NAGS president, David Elton, attended the event. “This GeoCompetition was the best we’ve ever seen. The excitement was awesome!” he said. “The GeoCompetition served several NAGS goals, including providing excitement, competition, and expanded interest in the geosynthetics profession as the students made their designs.”

As the winner, UM-C’s team took home the Atterberg Cup, which was presented by Dr. Amy Cerato, from the University of Oklahoma, at the annual Awards Luncheon. Dr. Cerato praised the teams, the advisors, and the corporate sponsors for creating an exciting and useful competition.

The event was held during the International Foundation Congress and Equipment Expo-’09, sponsored by theAssociation of Drilled Shaft Contractors/Pile DrivingContractors Association.

UM-C team captain Daniel Huaco, a four-year participant in this competition, said he was very pleased with the team. “We practiced a lot to regain the title. We did a lot of work to optimize our design for this year’s conditions. Confidence in our practice and design (limited amount of paper reinforcement) were key to our success.”

“We will be back to defend our title next year!” he concluded.

The competition promoted geotechnical engineering and fostered teamwork in an engineering design. Students prepared design papers and plans in advance and were invited to compete head-to-head in building a model, reinforced-soil retaining wall inside a plywood box using sand as backfill, poster paper for the wall facing, and craft paper strips as soil reinforcement. The design goals were to satisfy MSE wall construction standards in a timely fashion and sustain a 23kg (50lb) surcharge, while minimizing the amount of paper reinforcement. Points were awarded for the amount of paper reinforcement, the design, the speed of construction, and the wall performance. The UM-C winning wall supported 169lbs.

Details of the rules for competition and judging can be found at

Sponsors for the 2009 GeoCompetition included the International Association of Foundation Drilling, Carmeuse Industrial Sands, Colbond, Fugro Consultants Inc., the Geo-Institute, Geosyntec Consultants, Golder Associates, Jean-Louis and Janet Briaud, Langan Engineering, the North American Geosynthetics Society, and the students’ home universities.

The Geo-Institute promotes the MSE wall competition at regional ASCE student competitions and helps fund the national competitions. The previous competition was at the Geo-Institute 2008 GeoCongress in New Orleans. The 2010 GeoCompetition will be during the Feb. 20-24, 2010, ASCE GeoFlorida-2010 conference in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Dr. Robert Gilbert, from the University of Texas–Austin, headed the Geo-Institute student competition committee that also included Amy Cerato, Scott Merry, Dave Elton, Andrew Heydinger, Frank Townsend, Giovanna Biscontin, Paul Cosentino, Manoj Chopra, and Carol Bowers (Geo-Institute).

Dave Elton is the president of NAGS.

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