Civil, construction, and environmental engineers are known for creating big things — the infrastructure that surrounds us every day from skyscrapers to hospitals to waste water systems to miles-long rail lines. But engineers are also known for tackling big challenges in little packages — in this case, a bowling ball.
Members of the NC State student chapter of American Concrete Institute (ACI) traveled to San Francisco in April to compete in the Student Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Bowling Ball Competition at the ACI Concrete Convention.
The undergraduate university teams were challenged to demonstrate the behavior of fiber reinforcement within concrete to gain experience in forming and fabricating a fiber-reinforced concrete element, and to encourage creativity in engineering design predictions and analysis testing.
Thirty-three teams from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, and Puerto Rico submitted projects for judging in this year’s competition.
Teams were judged in two categories — bowling ball design prediction and bowling ball analysis test.
The NC State team, which included CCEE students Eleni Nakos, Josie Fisher, Andres Aguilar-Alvarez, Cole Flowers, Sam Valmassoi, Paul Acuna, Dawson Payne, Wil McTier, spent two months planning the lightweight concrete design, figuring out what materials would be used and how much of each material would contribute to the design. One challenge was meeting the weight requirements for the competition. The team worked hard to gather materials, and civil engineering student Sam Valmassoi designed the 3D printed mold. Overall, the team’s bowling balls were 0.1 pound off from the average required weight, and the diameter was 0.1 mm off the 200 mm mark for diameter requirements.
The team placed 11th in the analysis category and 14th in the design category.
In addition to the bowling bowl competition, the conference gave students an opportunity to network with other universities and concrete companies from across the world. One highlight was the “Student and Young Professional Networking Event” held at Cityscape Lounge, the tallest skybar in San Francisco. There were also several seminars and committee meetings at the conference to help students, faculty, researchers and companies distribute new industry knowledge and push for better and safer concrete practices. The team also took the opportunity to explore San Francisco, where they traveled to Chinatown, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
“This was my first conference with ACI, and it was one of the most impactful events for my understanding of the concrete and the construction industry,” said construction engineering student Dawson Payne. “I got to learn in seminars and committee meetings about concrete testing and new laws to improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of concrete in 2023. There were people from across the world at the conference, which helped me expand my network with fellow ACI members with various backgrounds and employers. I hope to continue to be able to attend these major conferences to consistently broaden my knowledge and network.”