The Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Science (EMS) and two lucky student ambassadors are among 20 finalists participating later this month, in a US competition that could lead to sustainable and innovative design of retaining walls around the world.
The Master of Professional Engineering students, Daniel Ingman and Owen Davis, led by their supervisor, Dr Ryan Beemer from the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, will compete at Geotechnical Frontiers 2017, Orlando, Florida, an event for geotechnical, civil and geo-professional communities.
They will compete in the GeoWall competition, sponsored by the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The competition challenges contestants to race the clock to find the best way to build a system to maximise the stability of a small-scale mechanically stabilised earth (MSE) wall made of kraft paper.
The competition requires team members to build a wall enclosed inside of a wooden sand box using paper and sand within 50 minutes, with the goal being optimisation. If the reinforcement is done well and the compaction of the sand is good, the paper MSE wall will remain intact when the side of the wooden box is removed.
Co-designer of the GeoWall, Owen Davis said.
“This competition is great as it tests our design skills and techniques to hold five cubic feet of sand with just kraft paper,” Davis said.
The UWA team are the first international group to have made it to the finals. In order to gain a place, the team submitted a report to the US-based ASCE Geo-Institute. The report included the design and analysis that went into the team’s wall and was judged by a panel of practicing engineers and professors, who named the UWA team 17th in the competition based on that design.
“We’ve held some practice runs, because timings are strict during the competition and we want to be prepared,” said Ingman, team captain. “The design has held up, so I’m confident the competition will go well in Orlando.”
Faculty Advisor, Dr Ryan Beemer, has attended US engineering competitions before, including concrete canoe and steel bridge events. The GeoWall competition was added recently to incorporate geotechnical engineering.
“All of the work is based strongly on theory and the student’s engineering knowledge,” said Beemer. “They need to know how forces are distributed, what is happening through statics and the geotechnical point of view.”
Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 is a four-day event featuring more than 200 exhibits, with a program of short courses, panel discussions, training lectures, workshops and technical papers presented by industry experts, such as Dr. Ryan Beemer. The team will also have many opportunities to connect with peers at valuable networking events.
Lauren Humfrey (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 2260