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Student Clubs

Civil Engineering Department

placing concrete onto mold for concrete canoe

Our Student Clubs

We have some of the most active student clubs on campus as they frequently take on team projects for national competitions and participate in regional and national conferences.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

ASCE is the oldest engineering society in the United States and caters to more than 115,000 professionals and 15,000 students in civil engineering. The purpose of this ASCE student chapter is to increase participation and interest in the civil engineering discipline through involvement with practicing engineers, the national organization, and community service. Here at UMD, we focus on developing professional relationships as well as personal friendships. We also work to provide opportunities for students to participate in national competitions, attend conferences and seminars, and network with local professionals in civil engineering. The general club has continued to bring in speakers to talk on various aspects of the profession and projects. The club continues to participate in Adopt-a-Highway and SCSE outreach events such as Science and Engineering Days and Science on Tap.

American Concrete Institute (ACI)

ACI is our student chapter of the American Concrete Institute, the world's leading authority and resource for the development of consensus-based standards around concrete. The purpose of our student organization is to increase knowledge of concrete design, construction and materials while developing partnerships with industry professionals. Last fall (2017), ACI traveled to the convention in Anaheim, CA. We competed in the EPD Egg Protection Device. It was designed to withstand loads dropped from various heights without letting the egg placed under it be crushed. Last spring ACI traveled to Detroit, MI where we competed in the FRP Composites Competition. In this competition, teams were required to make two beam designs that would be loaded in the center of the beam. This spring (2018), ACI will be traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah to compete in the FRC Concrete Bowling Ball. The balls will be tested in compression and judged in a bowling contest. 

Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

The SWE mission is to encourage women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity. Open to both men and women in engineering, the UMD SWE chapter attends regional and national conferences, hosts speakers from engineering companies, organizes outreach events with the Duluth community, and has several social gatherings throughout the year. Members who participate in volunteer opportunities, are eligible for scholarships and awards, and have the chance to network with other students and professionals in engineering. For more information, check out our Facebook page, or contact the club officers at

ASCE Team Competitions

Concrete Canoe Competition

Concrete Canoe builds a canoe out of concrete, that floats! They start from scratch, creating their own concrete mix design and mold. the team is scored on a number of variables including a design paper, engineers notebook, concrete mix design, display, and racing the canoe. This year’s concrete canoe is named Voyageur. Modeled after a traditional Boundary Waters canoe, the inside is pigmented tan while the outside is green with a black edging. The theme is meant to reflect Northern Minnesotan fur-trades and North Woods. The Midwest Regional Conference Competition at the Minnesota State University Mankato was canceled due to a snowstorm, but the team took fourth in the virtual competition held for the region.  

Geowall Competition

GeoWall is a student competition in which students design and build a model retaining wall out of construction paper. The wall must hold back a box full of sand plus an additional load that varies year to year. The goal is to use as little construction paper as possible without having the wall fail. The team is scored on a number of variables including a design paper, weight of paper used, deflection of retaining wall, etc. Our team competes at a regional competition once a year. In 2018, our team took second place at the regional competition and went on to compete at nationals in Orlando, FL and got 9th place overall.

Steel Bridge Competition

Steel Bridge is an AISC sanctioned national competition where students design, fabricate, construct, and test a steel bridge. The winning bridge is selected based on economic analysis, load capacity, constructibility, and aesthetics from the pool of bridge teams.

PCI Big Beam Competition

The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) hosts a national competition in which students design, build, and test a full-scale prestressed concrete beam. The beam must crack and fail within a specific range of applied load that varies year to year. The goal is to predict the cracking strength, failure strength, and deflection as close as possible. The team is scored on a number of variables including design accuracy, cost, weight, largest deflection, report quality, and innovation. UMD teams took 8th place in 2017 and 6th place in 2018.

This picture shows the three 2018 Big Beam teammates standing next to their beam.