A senior in the UALR civil and construction engineering program led a team of students from across the country to a second place finish in an engineering design competition held Aug. 3-6 in Portland, Ore.
Angela Matika of Little Rock was selected to serve as one of only five student leaders by the American Society of Civil Engineers Construction Institute Student Days. She was tasked with forming a six-member team to solve a civil engineering challenge.
In addition to Matika, ASCE invited UALR senior Whitney Montague, also of Little Rock, to participate in the program and funded both their travel expenses. Matika and Montague were the only two students selected from Arkansas.
“There were 30 students from 16 different universities from around the country,” said Matika. “To be chosen to participate was very exciting.”
The Construction Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers brings top engineering students together with potential employers who are seeking new talent. The event is held each year in conjunction with a technical conference for professional engineers.
After arriving in Portland, student teams were challenged to design a cost-efficient, 10-mile, pressure flow pipeline system to pump water from a lake to a water treatment plant with a large hill in the middle of the route.
The teams were judged on multiple criteria including performance, reliability, constructability, cost, and political and environmental factors.
“In order to design our pipeline system, students were encouraged to attend sessions as well as network with the contractors, manufacturers, consultants, and owners in the pipeline industry who were also attending the convention,” Matika said.
Matika’s team found that a 42-inch diameter steel pipe with a polyurethane coating and lining would work the best to move the raw water from the lake. They opted to use a turbine to regulate flow downhill, which collected energy to help power the plant.
Matika said she and Montague later spoke with one of the judges, who assured them that despite their second-place finish, their design was among the most innovative.
“It helps to know we were on the right track,” Matika said.
“This is a fantastic result, especially considering that this is the first time that UALR has sent students to this competition,” said Dr. Nickolas Jovanovic, coordinator of the civil and construction engineering program at UALR.
“We hope to send students every year from now on,” he added.
The civil and construction engineering program prepares students to design and manage construction of infrastructure such as highways, bridges, levees, tunnels, and buildings. Created in 2010, its initial class graduated in 2013.
It is one of several programs offered by the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, along with construction management, environmental engineering, and architectural and construction engineering.