Engineering student Karlie Del Santo was hanging out in the student lounge inside the Scrugham Engineering and Mines Building last year when she saw it.
It was the charter for the University’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), recognizing the club’s organization in 1923 — a century ago.
“I was blown away,” she said.
The University’s ASCE student chapter turned 100 this year, and Del Santo — now the ASCE student chapter president — celebrated the anniversary at a Nov. 30 banquet in the Joe Crowley Student Union. About 200 guests, including ASCE officials, local industry, engineering faculty and students were present to mark the event.
“You don’t see this often,” Jaffer Almosawy, ASCE Region 8 governor, who traveled to Reno from Las Vegas for the celebration, said. “It’s a huge feat for any organization.”
Almosawy said ASCE — which represents more than 150,000 civil engineers in 177 countries — is a great opportunity for students to build a foundation for their careers, a sentiment echoed by many at the event.
“Without (the University’s ASCE club), I probably wouldn’t have been as successful,” Chris Meyer, who graduated in 2018 with a degree in civil engineering, said. “It opened a lot of doors.”
The club, advised by Engineering lecturer Kelly Keselica and boasting about 70 members, offers such activities as the Concrete Canoe competition that build a sense of teamwork and develop interpersonal skills.
Keselica, who earned her B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering at the University, talked about her experiences as a student on the ASCE Concrete Canoe team in the early 2000s in her keynote address. She described the team’s fun rivalry with U.C. Berkeley, and how it motivated the group to excel. The University’s Concrete Canoe team eventually won the national Concrete Canoe competition in 2008 and again in 2014.
Keselica is eager for a third win and offered a lighthearted promise as motivation.
“If you win the national Concrete Canoe competition for a third time,” she pledged to the students in the crowd, “I will get a tattoo (memorializing the win) on my body.”
She also praised the organization for its role in her professional development.
“I am so grateful for ASCE and all the things I’ve learned,” she said.
Faculty, industry support
Engineering Dean Erick Jones congratulated the club on its centennial and recalled watching the Concrete Canoe team perform at the Intermountain Southwest Student Symposium in April at the Sparks Marina.
“I was lucky enough to watch our Concrete Canoe team come together under pressure to deal with a longitudinal crack in their canoe and to ultimately win the event,” Jones said. “I was so proud to see this group work as a team to accomplish its goals – one of the values enshrined in your mission statement."
Jones also discussed the importance of civil engineering in our society, an importance reflected in the College’s strategic plan, which lists equitable community infrastructure as one of its research pillars.
Civil & Environmental Engineering Department Chairman Krishna Pagilla congratulated the club for its longevity and for the supportive community it creates for civil engineering students.
“It’s a fairly active group,” Pagilla said. “It’s a whole ecosystem that they’ve built over the years.”
He also praised faculty, staff and industry for their support of the group. The event had 18 industry sponsors: ASCE Nevada section; BJG Architecture & Engineering; CFA, Inc.; Construction Materials Engineers, Inc.; Eastern Sierra Engineering; FullForce Engineered Solutions; KG Walters Construction; GCW Engineers Surveyors; Kimley-Horn; Construction Leadership Council; Lumos & Associates; Manhard Consulting; NewFields; QMS Construction; Jensen Precast, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Nevada; Sierra Nevada Construction, Inc.; and Wood Rodgers.