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Media Advisory

Concrete canoe races, bridge-building competitions this weekend

27 April 2006

ATTENTION: General assignment, education and engineering writers and editors

Contact: Liese Greensfelder, Media Relations
(510) 643-7741 lieseg@berkeley.edu

Teams of engineering students from eight universities will compete in steel bridge-building and concrete canoe racing events this weekend at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Lake Merritt in Oakland.

On Saturday, students will race the clock and each other to construct 20-foot long bridges that they have designed and pre-fabricated. Judges will test the bridges for aesthetics, load-bearing capability and stiffness. On Sunday, two and four-person student crews will race the concrete canoes they have designed and built.

Students from four East Bay high schools and one middle school will join in the events with their own balsa wood bridges, which will be tested to the breaking point. They will also team up with university students in a quiz bowl on Saturday afternoon.

Steel bridge construction and testing will take place from 9:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Concrete canoe racing will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. The balsa-wood bridge event will be at noon on Saturday.

The steel and balsa bridge competitions will be on the Doe Library steps on the UC Berkeley campus. Concrete canoes will race on Lake Merritt near Fairyland.

The competition is a part of the American Society of Civil Engineer's 2006 MidPacific Conference. Winning teams will go on to compete in the national events.

The number of U.S. students enrolling in engineering programs has not been keeping up with the demand for engineers, says Gregory Fenves, chair of UC Berkeley's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. As a hands-on process for engineering design and construction, the goal of the weekend events is to show students that engineering can be a creative, fun field to enter, Fenves says.