January Spotlight - University of Portland Student Chapter


The ASCE student chapter at the University of Portland underwent a change of leadership from the 2016-2017 school year. Last year’s officers graduated in May 2017 and club leadership was turned over to the next class of seniors. The chapter’s faculty advisor, Dr. Mojtaba Takallou is on sabbatical during the University’s Fall 2017 semester. Dr. Mark Kennedy has substituted as advisor for the time being.

On September 11th, the student chapter held its first general meeting on the University of Portland campus. The event attracted 50 individuals mostly consisting of civil engineering majors with a few mechanical and electrical engineers. Club officers began the meeting by giving an introductory slide show describing their plans for the club during the semester. Afterwards, the club members divided themselves into small groups and assembled into corners of the room. Each corner of the lecture hall had a large piece of paper, a specific field of civil engineering (geotechnical, hydraulic, transportation, etc.) and discussion questions specific for that subdiscipline. This activity engaged the students to discuss what civil engineering entails and how it is crucial to a functioning and safe society. Senior engineering students had the chance to share their knowledge with the younger classes, and the younger students got an early exposure to the many opportunities they will face in the future. Their ideas were written on the paper and later shared with the other attendees in the room.

The beginning weeks of the Fall Semester consisted of the meeting afore mentioned and design/construction of the student chapter’s Concrete Canoe. The Canoe will be acknowledged during the ASCE Regional Conference in April at the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Along with the Canoe project, the student chapter is pursuing a service project located at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA. The location is widely popular for its fish hatchery and walking trails, and welcomes an impressive estimation of 100,000 people a year. Trail quality is a growing issue for the location and volunteers are needed to help build solutions. The officers made a site visit on October 9th and met with the Columbia Springs volunteer coordinator to discuss opportunities. Multiple trail maintenance projects were presented to the officers, and the good news is that every project would require a team of engineers to analyze, plan, and build a solution to the problem. The officers saw this as a good opportunity for member involvement as well as club involvement in the community.

Student chapter officers Terrington Smith and Brian Tsujii (President and Vice President, respectively) made an appearance at the ASCE Oregon Section Board Meeting on October 17th at Kell’s Irish Pub in downtown Portland. They made important connections with the Oregon Section leadership including its President, ex-President, and Treasurer. The hospitality of the host and the welcoming attitude of the other attendees gave Terrington and Brian a pleasurable experience.

Six days later, the student chapter officers held their second meeting of the semester. The Columbia Springs service project was presented along with updates on Canoe construction and on-campus opportunities to earn money for the club. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation from Ryan Williams. The students and officers welcomed both Mr. Williams and Jerald Ramsden of WSP, and highly enjoyed the stories and career advice shared by Mr. Williams.

Recent student chapter involvement in the engineering community included attending Meet a Civil Engineer Day at Oregon State University where the student chapter Secretary and Canoe Lead, Jennifer Fandel, received the Byron Jones Scholarship. Lastly, a few student chapter members attended and competed in the ITE Traffic Bowl where the University of Portland took the third place prize.

Ideas for future activities and involvement for the student chapter are conceptualized every day, and the officers look forward to leading the club through a successful Spring Semester.