Steel and concrete mean more than just buildings in the hands of NYU Tandon students

Civil and Urban Engineering students excel in regional competitions

Students building a Steel Bridge

Students competing in the American Institute of Steel Construction Student Steel Bridge Competition

When the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Metropolitan Section Student Conference was held in mid-April, the event may have been held virtually, but the triumphs racked up by NYU Tandon students were very real.

The ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition challenges students to design, build, and race a vessel that will float — despite being made of a material that laypeople assume would sink upon being placed in water. Tandon’s multidisciplinary team, advised by Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Weihua Jin, made numerous innovations in this year’s canoe, including using concrete that captures CO2 and sequesters it within the material and employing machine-learning methods to optimize the mix. Thanks in part to that out-of-the-box thinking (or should we say out-of-the-boat), the team trounced the competition, landing in first place and heading to the nationals for the fifth year in a row.

Other recent ASCE wins for Tandon include:

  • Coached by Professors Ronald Pennella and Lawrence Chiarelli, the Tandon team took second place in the ASCE Construction Institute Competition, which required them to submit a project management plan to be used as part of the complex Kew Gardens Interchange Project.
  • Senior Lamin Leigh won first place in the regional Daniel W. Mead essay competition — which this year required students to think about how the civil engineering profession could respond to the COVID-19 crisis and what ethical responsibilities that entails.
  • Doctoral candidate and C2SMART researcher Abhinav Bhattacharyya wrote the first-place entry in an essay contest held to celebrate the ASCE Metropolitan Section’s Centennial.

“I’m thrilled that Tandon students, as always, have done so well in ASCE competitions,” said Chair of the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering Magued Iskander. “It’s especially meaningful given that this year marks the 100th anniversary of our student chapter. Special thanks go to all our members, as well as to President Uma Lakshman,  who ably organized the entire ASCE Met Section Student Conference. 

ASCE wasn’t the only organization generating excitement in recent days. In late March, Tandon students took part in the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Student Steel Bridge Competition, which this year was divided into two parts: the first, "Compete from Campus,” allowed students to reuse their design from the canceled 2020 competition, albeit with new modification of construction constraints and the removal of the stiffness category, and erect their bridges right at their schools instead of traveling to a central location. The second, supplemental competition, allowed students who were fully remote to participate by preparing a design report and presentation.

The removal of the stiffness category hampered Tandon since their design had been optimized for that factor and was therefore at a disadvantage in the lightness and structural efficiency categories. As Iskander pointed out, anyone can build an exceptionally light bridge if they’re not worried about it deflecting too much. Despite that, the team, coached by alum Mark Milkis, placed second and will be headed to the nationals. (Interestingly, because they were the only team in the Metropolitan Conference to actually complete a bridge, they were assigned by competition organizers to be part of the deep south contingent.) The supplemental team placed third. You can watch various Steel Bridge “Compete from Campus” events on the NYU Steel Youtube channel.

“It’s been a very full few months,” Iskander affirmed. “I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the support of the IDC Foundation, which has sponsored a variety of our student activities, as well as to Tandon’s Vertically Integrated Projects program, which is a second home for our concrete canoe and steel bridge efforts.”

Team members

Concrete Canoe

Wendy Lam, Edgar Lei, Wisely Wu, Carina Tan, Michelle Ren, Darwin Fermin, Joel Mendoza, Dinuka Ranasinghe, Maryam Ahmed, Shakya Amaratunga, David Cuevas, Yichen Guo, Saimul Hossain, Noshin Khan, Leon Loi, Adiba Miazi, Niharika Narenda, Vi Nguyen, Samantha Noel Rathe, Emmalyn Romero, Colin Saideman, Mark Streminsky, Alondra Vera, Andre Wu, Hao Xian Zheng


Construction Institute Competition

Sinai Majano, Yanely Jean Louis, and Maya Edward


“Compete from Campus” Steel Bridge

Inez Warshaw, Conrad Krawiec, Tarah Driver, Victor Alvarez, Chris Katsanos, Rubiel Aquino, Rana Mohamed, Karol Ortiz, Sy Lee, Jonathan Lopez  (2020 team included Carol Shlyakhova, Jacob Asher, Marisa Searle, Denilson Granados, Fiona Kelly, Lizeth Oliva, Veronica Wambura, Nick Ohm, Sarah Casaceli, Erik Kazazi, Michael Osorio, Purnima Prasad, Maggie Miranda)


Supplemental Steel Bridge

Inez Warshaw, Lizeth Oliva, Charlotte Adelson, Rubiel Aquino, Michael Selig, Richard Liu, Sy Lee, Conrad Krawiec, Hannah Mahabir, Marisa Searle, David Cheung, Karol Ortiz, Rana Mohamed, Purnima Prasad