CU Denver takes the spotlight at ASCE Annual Convention

By: Philip Taylor, civil engineering student

Denver’s booming construction scene took center stage at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Convention last weekend at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Denver. In addition, CU Denver students hosted ASCE leaders, networked with industry peers and attended dozens of educational sessions at the three-day event.

ASCE’s decision to hold its 2018 convention on CU Denver’s doorstep offered students unique access to the industry’s top leaders and innovators such as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn. Student attendees also had the opportunity to take behind-the-scenes tours of some of Denver’s biggest construction projects, including the Platte to Park Hill stormwater systems project and CDOT’s Central-70 project to overhaul and widen Interstate 70 through north Denver.

CU Denver made its own mark on the convention by hosting ASCE’s newest president, Robin Kemper, P.E., on Wednesday, Oct. 10. As ASCE president, Kemper leads the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE represents roughly 150,000 civil engineers in 177 countries; publishes important civil engineering literature such as the ASCE 7 standard for design loads, among many others; and is a leading organizer of educational events like this weekend’s convention as well as monthly technical dinners in Denver.

Kemper last Wednesday had breakfast with CU Denver’s ASCE Student Chapter officers and faculty advisor, Dr. David Mays, as well as Dr. Caroline Clevenger. Kemper discussed the important role ASCE student chapters play in connecting students to working engineers. She also discussed her job as a senior risk engineering consultant at Zurich Services Corp., where she advises owners, designers and contractors on professional liability, builder’s risk, risk management and best management practices. While designers and contractors play different roles in civil projects, the success of one depends on the success of the other, Kemper said. Effective communication and best practices among designers and contractors are key to limiting risks at the construction site.

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ASCE President Robin Kemper (first row, second from left) joined CU Denver students and faculty for breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Kemper later toured the CU Denver campus and gave an hour-long presentation to Dr. Heidi Brothers’ Construction Engineering Systems course. She urged students to take full advantage of the convention’s educational sessions, tours and networking opportunities.

“Meet as many different people as you can,” Kemper said. “And talk to us gray-hairs.”

Kemper encouraged students to stick with ASCE after they graduate and consider becoming politically active. ASCE faces challenges nationwide in retaining its young members. As an incentive to graduates, ASCE offers free memberships to civil engineers during their first year in the workforce and graduated membership fees in the years that follow, Kemper said. She highlighted ASCE’s professional connections, its social and community service events, and its political lobbying on infrastructure matters. ASCE members “speak as one voice,” to policy makers in Washington, D.C., and at statehouses across the nation, Kemper said. Bills such as the Water Resources Development Act, which last week passed the Senate and authorizes billions of dollars in investments in civil works projects, help drive construction of infrastructure that improves the safety and welfare of the public.

“We’ve got your back,” Kemper said of ASCE’s advocacy work. “Public policy helps drive the future of our infrastructure and how we help the public.”

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Kemper speaks to the Construction Engineering Systems course on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

ASCE also supports construction engineering professionals, Kemper said. For example, ASCE’s Construction Institute offers construction professionals the opportunity to share best practices with their peers and take part in technical activities and conferences as well as the development of standards. The Construction Institute – whose goal is to improve communication within the engineering and construction industry, improve construction practices and burnish the image of the construction industry — is one of nine ASCE institutes that provide resources to members in specialty areas.

“You’re going to need to continue your education throughout your lives,” Kemper told students. In addition to passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, Kemper recommended student consider pursuing Envision credentials. Envision, which is a certification and training program supported by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, promotes sustainable approaches to planning, designing, constructing and operating infrastructure projects.

Sustainability was a key driver of the Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems Project, which seeks to protect Denver residents from extreme flooding while improving water quality in the South Plate River watershed. The project was one of the construction site tours advertised at the ASCE convention. Platte to Park Hill is a $298 million project for the City and County of Denver that will recontour the City Park Golf Course to intercept storm water; create additional stormwater detention at Park Hill; build a mile-long open drainage channel through north Denver for flood relief and recreation; and install massive below-ground conduits to safely convey stormwater to the South Platte River in Globeville. The City Park Gold Course phase of the project was procured as a design-build contract and awarded to Saunders Construction. Work began in late 2017, and the course is on schedule to reopen in summer 2019. The broader Platte to Park Hill project faces many unique construction challenges associated with building in an urban environment, including land acquisition, environmental risks, traffic management and community outreach.

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A major storm sewer at the Platte to Park Hill project. Photo courtesy of Molly Trujillo.

The ASCE convention underscored the importance of continuing education in the civil engineering profession as well as the need for good communication among civil engineering designers, project managers and contractors. It reinforced the need for innovation to ensure civil engineers continue to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public.

ATP Celebrates at 11th annual Deja-Vu Rendez Vous

_DSC2515Assistive Technology Partners (ATP) is deeply grateful for the ongoing support from the Colorado construction industry’s annual Déjà vu Rendezvous event. Held May 18, 2018, this eleventh event offered a chance to unite past and current members of the Colorado construction community while supporting a worthwhile cause. Proceeds from the event help ATP, housed in the Department of Bioengineering, meet their mission for persons with cognitive, sensory, and/or physical disabilities to reach their highest potential at home, school, work and play through the addition of appropriate assistive technologies to their lives. This year the event hosted 800 guests at Denver’s Mile High Station and brought cumulative donations to more than $2.3M. 

The event created by retired Trautman & Shreve CEO, Bill Caile, is sponsored by more than 100 corporations. 

Cathy Bodine, executive director of ATP and associate professor of bioengineering, says, “We are so grateful to the local construction companies and our generous sponsors for choosing ATP to benefit from such a wonderful annual event.” Funds will be used to support persons with disabilities, their families and others who are unable to afford services.

“The Déjà-vu event has always been focused on the wonderful people that make up the construction industry in Colorado and the relationships we all have,” says Marc Able, Steering Committee Chair and President, ABLE Consulting Group, LLC.. “It is one night a year where we leave the business at the door and celebrate everyone on a personal level. It is such a fun night and to be able to support the great work ATP does is icing on the cake.”

Project un[Contained] places second, receives social impact award at THE CLIMB

IMG_1546On April 26, six collegiate start-up teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at THE CLIMB Pitch Night, hosted by the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at the CU Denver Business School. Among the six teams was Project un[Contained] and interdisciplinary senior design project advised by Peter Jenkins, professor of mechanical engineering.

Un[Contained] won second place ($2500) and the Social Impact Award ($1000) for their deployable, multi-purpose structure made from upcycled shipping containers and deliver them to developing countries suffering from natural disasters, refugee crises and more. Students on the team include Nic Chandler (MECH), Jason Bergfalk (Architecture), Austin Zerr (MECH), Nicholas Powers (Business), Gage Brumley (MECH), Brad Dyksterhouse (MECH), Riley Hamlin (MECH), Corey McLaughlin (MECH), Jon Farmer (Architecture) and Thomas Satkowski (Business).

Read the full story here.

Congratulations!

ASCE President Kristina Swallow presents distinguished lecture

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From L to R: Philip Taylor, Badr Husini, Caroline Clevenger, Kristina Swallow, Moatassem Abdallah, Aaron Leopold

On Wednesday, February 28, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President Kristina Swallow visited CU Denver and presented a lecture, “Engineering the Future” to more than 100 engineering students, faculty, and industry partners. The message: how to best prepare future civil engineers to meet the challenges in our aging infrastructure, innovation of new technologies and capabilities that will enable us to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Ms. Swallow also encouraged the attendees to have the necessary “courageous conversations” to promote sustainability and resiliency in our infrastructure and civil engineering. The visit was coordinated by the CU Denver ASCE student chapter and faculty in the Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) program.

While here, Ms. Swallow also spoke with the CEM advisory board, toured the campus and attended a dinner with campus and college leadership hosted by Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and Paul Boulos, president-elect of the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port & Navigation Engineers.

Read the ASCE story.

Bioengineering hosts first-ever BOLT program

This August the department of Bioengineering hosted its first ever Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) for high school students. 25 students from around the metro area participated in the week’s activities, which ranged from building an optical heart rate monitor and learning about tissue engineering to visiting the Children’s Hospital Gait Lab and Center for Surgical Innovation. The objective of the camp was to expose students to the many different facets of bioengineering and to get them excited about what a career as a biomedical engineer could look like. At the conclusion of the week students presented their rough prototypes of new designs for medical devices that could help a pediatrician before enjoying an ice cream social with the students and faculty of the BIOE Department.

CU Denver hosts international seminar in Santiago, Chile

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Planning transmission systems expansion: a review of good practices around the world

In July 2016, the Government of Chile passed a bill that radically modified the planning and operation of the Chilean electric power system. Among the various changes, the now Law 20.936 mandates that the planning of the transmission system expansion shall be performed by Chile’s “Comisión Nacional de Energía” (CNE), the equivalent of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the United States. Centralized planning of the transmission system expansion has been widely recognized around the world as a key enabler for the penetration of renewable energy, and for lowering prices for final users.

With funds from the Inter-American Development Bank, CNE hired CU Denver to conduct a study to identify ad-hoc methodologies and good practices to serve as a “toolbox” for the drafting of technical regulations that properly capture the spirit of Law 20.936.

A key milestone within the project was the hosting of an international seminar in Santiago, Chile to discuss transmission expansion planning processes elsewhere in the world. The event was held on April 10, 2017 at the SOFOFA Center and was attended by more than 150 local people, many of them CEOs of electric companies and high-ranking government officials. The conference brought together experts from Mexico, Brazil, and the United States.

Mr. Andrés Romero, CNE director, opened the seminar, followed by an overview of the project from the project PI, electrical engineering professor Fernando Mancilla-David. The event continued with keynote speeches from international experts, and various roundtable discussions about specific subjects within Law 20.936.

The research team includes project PI electrical engineering professor Dr. Fernando Mancilla-David, Dr. Gabriel Olguín (Director of Power Business Chile), Dr. Alejandro Angulo (electrical engineering professor at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile), and a  number of project engineers, including CU Denver doctoral student Héctor Robles-Campos.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Fernando Mancilla-David or visit https://www.cne.cl/seminario-internacional-planificacion-de-la-transmision/.

 

CEAS kickball 2016-photos and recap

On Friday, October 7, more than 40 students, staff and faculty convened on the CU Denver athletic field to play kickball. The weather was beautiful, and everyone had a great time. The first game between the Hemoglobin Trotters (bioengineering) and the Bit Kickers (computer science) ended with a Hemoglobin Trotters victory. Game two was ASCE/civil engineering versus the Grass Kickers (electrical, mechanical and college staff), and resulted in a ASCE/civil engineering victory.

Check out the pictures below. We can’t wait for next year’s games!

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Year-End Celebration recap

On May 13, more than 250 faculty, students, staff, alumni and guests attended the fifth annual College of Engineering and Applied Science Year-End Celebration. Guests enjoyed a catered BBQ lunch, photobooth, badminton, and an awards ceremony.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2017 event, scheduled for May 12, 2017.

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Students Shine at Spring Senior Design

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Photo credit: Kate Seppala Photography

On Friday, May 13, 24 teams participated in the Spring 2016 Senior Design Competition and Open House. Nearly 100 students from civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and the College of Architecture and Planning showcased their capstone projects in the North Classroom Atrium. Projects ranged from the design of a new museum for the Denver Police Department to a solar powered boat. Teams presented to a panel of eight industry judges, competing for cash prizes.

The overall winner of the event was Hand Gesture Recognition in Real-time via 3-D Printed Capacitive Wristband from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Departmental winners included:

The event also hosted a group of 60 eighth grade students from Clyde Miller K-8 in Aurora. The students spent an hour meeting with the teams, asking questions about each project, and working on a scavenger hunt.

The Senior Design event is made possible each semester by donors Donald and Karen White.

Bennett named 2016 CEAS Outstanding Staff

Annie Bennett, program assistant for the Department of Electrical Engineering, has been named the 2016 College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Staff. The award, which includes a cash prize as well as a commemorative plaque, will be presented at the college Year-End Celebration on May 13.

As the winner of this year’s award, Sarah will be appointed to serve on the selection committee for next year’s Outstanding Staff award.

Congratulations!