ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference

University of Illinois at Chicago


Concrete Canoe

Concrete Canoe is a national event occurring annually since the early 1970's. The Great Lakes Student Conference acts as a regional qualifier for teams aiming to compete at the national event. Teams utilize knowledge of construction materials, concrete mixtures, creative thinking, and ingenuity to design and build a canoe. A team of professional engineers will judge the canoes based on a variety of factors including aesthetics, overall design, and quality of concrete mixture. In the spirit of the event, students will also race their canoes in a series of heats. 

Steel Bridge

Steel Bridge is a national competition organized by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and ASCE. Students design and erect steel bridges to simulate innovative solutions, practice professionalism, and explore structural steel efficiency. Scoring is performed by professional engineers and based on display, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, construction economy, structural efficiency, and overall performance.

Technical Paper

Technical Paper involves the composition and presentation of a engineering topic typically aligned with ethics, responsibilities, and practices of professional engineers. In the tradition of past Great Lakes Student Conferences, this year's topic follows the National Daniel W Meade Student Contest giving participants the opportunity to also compete for a scholarship. The paper will be presented to a panel of judges of professional judges whom score the participant.

Paper Submission Deadline Extended

Due March 1, 2018 at 10:59 PM CST

Geotechnical Design

Presented by Stalworth Underground

Geotechnical Design allows participants to explore the fundamentals of geotechnical engineering through the construction of a floodwall. The design will be constructed during the competition with provided materials and subsequently judged based on the ability to hold back water. Each material has a predetermined cost based on the quanitity used. The score is based on the ratio of total strength to total cost of the floodwall.

Materials Design

Presented By W-T Group, LLC

Materials Design tests participants' knowledge of concrete mixes and design. Teams from each university design and create a concrete cylinder following the specifications found in the rules. The cylinder will be subjected to an unconfined compression test to determine the compressive strength. Additional judging will be based on density and material specifications.

Environmental Design

Environmental Design test participants' ability to design creative solutions to improve drainage din the event of flooding. Over the past 10 years, the Chicago-land area has been hit with an increased number of 100-year storms. A lot of the ground in the Chicago-land area is flat and heavily built-up with impervious pavement, preventing the drainage of storm water through natural ground. Participants will use sand, clay, topsoil, mulch, peat moss, hay, and sawdust to retain water and filter salts. Scoring is based on effectivenss of design and final concentration of salts in the effluent water.

Mystery Design

Presented by F.H. Paschen

Mystery Design encourages participants to think creatively and work as a team to solve an engineering themed challenge. Details are not released until universities arrive to the conference on Thursday, April 19th.

Concrete Frisbee

Presented by Lendlease

Concrete Frisbee allows students to practice designing and constructing with lightweight concrete. Teams are encouraged to decorate a frisbee using their university colors and logos. Scoring is based on total distance, accuracy, and design.


Surveying tests participants' ability to use their skills and knowledge to determine distances, elevations, and bearing between two points. Participants will use basic trigonometry and land surveying to complete two tasks. Scoring is based on accuracy, neatness of field book, and presentation of findings. 

COncrete Bags

Concrete Bags (otherwise known as Concrete Cornhole) gives participants the opportunity to experiment with concrete mixtures and design to craft a board and then compete in a double elimination tournament using their boards and provided bean bags. Boards will be judged based on aesthetics and adherence to design.


Presented by Ciorba Group

Transportation highlights the challenge of accommodating multiple modes of travel in a large urban environment. Participants must propose a revised intersection located near Chicago's Union Station that is both safe and efficient. Scoring is based on creativity of design, how well it efficiently accommodates all modes of transportation, and the degree to which it promotes sustainable development.  

Service Activity

The Service Activity embodies the spirit of the Great Lakes Student Conference through an outreach activity chosen and executed by each university team. Photos and videos of each activity will be highlighted in the banquet/awards ceremony at the closing on conference.

Wooden Bridge

presented by Milhouse Engineering & Construction, LTD.

Wooden Bridge tests knowledge of bridge design, materials, and efficiency by creating scaled models of a bridge using basswood sticks, plywood plates, and wood glue. Scoring is based on PV value.

Scavenger Hunt

The Scavenger Hunt encourages participants to work as a team, solve problems, and find objects and facts related to the Great Lakes Student Confernece.


Quizbowl tests participants' understanding of engineering principles in a fast paced environement modeled after a popular game show.


Volleyball  tests participants use of varied forces applied to a moving object with the objective of getting it over a net and into a defined rectangular area without the opposing team achieving the same objective. 


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