Monthly Archives: July 2015

Concrete Canoe Team reaches top ten at national competition

By Kim Tsai

After 3,500 person-hours and many unique challenges, the UW Concrete Canoe team is proud to have placed ninth at the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition, the team’s fourth time placing in the top ten. Eighteen members competed from June 20 to 22 at Clemson University after placing first at the Pacific Northwest Regional Conference in late April. Twenty-two universities competed from all over the nation in four, equally-weighted categories: Design Paper, Presentation, Final Product, and Races. The team won fifth place in Design Paper, sixth place in Presentation, and 10th in Final Product.


At the end of a long 2,750 mile ride from Seattle, Wash. to Clemson, S.C., the 2015 canoe Ska’ana was unpacked on July 20 for the first day of competition. Weighing in at 180 lbs, Ska’ana is the UW’s lightest canoe in recent years. At 22 feet long and 24 inches wide, Ska’ana was featured with other canoes in Memorial Stadium at Clemson University for judges to review. The UW team passed a strict flotation test to verify a lighter-than-water composition.

After passing the flotation test, the team went on to prepare for presentations the next day. Schools lined up to give brief presentations to a panel of judges, followed by strict questions on project management and engineering rationale. CEE senior Marissa Karpack and recent graduate Nigel Lyons, both three-year competition participants, excelled on stage and answered technical questions with precision and expertise.

On June 22, the last day of competition, 22 teams gathered on the shore of Campus Beach at Clemson for the final leg of the competition, the races. With ten paddlers, the UW team raced in five different races, the Women’s Endurance, Men’s Endurance, Women’s Sprint, Men’s Sprint, and Co-Ed Sprint. Ska’ana displayed great straight-line speed, but was out-performed by more maneuverable canoes during tight turns. However, with rigorous paddling practices in Lake Washington, the Huskies rose to the challenge and exercised a mastery of paddling techniques.

After a day of school chants and quite a few sunburns, the competition drew to a close with a banquet and awards ceremony. At the end of a three-day competition, the team prided their great accomplishments in 2015, and also looked forward to many more innovations for 2016.

To follow the team, visit their website or follow on Facebook at

Congratulations, graduates! 2015 CEE Graduation Celebration

A packed crowd filled the HUB Ballroom Sunday, June 14 to celebrate the 2015 CEE graduating class. CEE chair Greg Miller emceed the event, which featured several speakers, faculty and student awards, and a reception following the program.


Nigel Lyons

Nigel Lyons, elected student speaker by the 2015 BSCEs, expressed gratitude to the people who profoundly impacted his time in More Hall: professors, TAs, staff, parents, and peers. Joe Mahoney, voted CEE faculty speaker, provided “a few thoughts and suggestions” for the graduating class in his keynote. Among his reflections, Mahoney endorsed traveling as much as possible outside the U.S., accumulating life stories, and affirmed that success is highly correlated with sweat.

The annual CEE department awards were also presented, honoring both faculty and students. Faculty awards, determined by the vote of graduating CEE students, were presented in recognition of outstanding teaching and mentorship. Amy Kim received the 2015 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. Students described Kim as always having time to assist students with career and graduate school advice, and that “she has already been able to get many undergraduate and graduate students excited about green/sustainable construction.”

decorated_cap2_smallThe 2015 Outstanding Teacher Award went to Alex Horner-Devine, who was noted for his enthusiasm, humor, and dedication to teaching. “Not only did he take the time to make sure we understood the concepts behind each equation we were using in class, he did so while accommodating multiple learning styles,” wrote a student.


Neil Hawkins and Darcy Akers

Darcy Akers and Nigel Lyons were honored with the Neil and Ann Hawkins Prize. Established by Professor and former Chair Neil Hawkins and his wife, Anna, the award recognizes two BSCE graduates who have demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership, and service to the civil engineering community and department.

New this year was the Chair’s Award, presented to graduating senior Nick Orsi. A member of the Concrete Canoe Team, several honor societies, and an ASCE officer, Orsi has demonstrated leadership and academic excellence while pursuing study abroad and internship experiences.

The tradition continued this year of recognizing the 50th reunion class in the CEE Graduation Celebration. Those in attendance from the class of 1965 were provided a Stole of Gratitude and invited to walk in the procession with faculty and graduates.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2015!

To see all of the photos from the graduation celebration, view the Flickr album.

Kosonen, Kim awarded Best Paper at ICSC

PhD student Heta Kosonen and CEE assistant professor Amy Kim were awarded Best Paper at the 5th International Construction Specialty Conference, held June 7 -10 in Vancouver BC, for their work on assessing the feasibility of plug load monitoring and energy-efficiency interventions.

Heta Kosonen

Heta Kosonen

The CEE department was well represented with three presentations on topics ranging from culture in construction (Leigh Allison and assistant professor Jessica Kaminsky), to office occupant behavior (Heta Kosonen and Kim), to indoor environmental quality (CEE professor Dorothy Reed, Kim, Stanley Wang and Yiming Liu).

All presentations were well received by the audience and conference delegates. Kosonen and Kim’s award-winning paper, “Feasibility of plug-load monitoring and energy-saving interventions in residential and office buildings on the University of Washington campus,” is accessible on the conference website.