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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Civil and Environmental Engineering News – Fall 2015

Donors ensure hands-on experiences for future students

Over the years: ASCE club competitions collageThey are annual and timeless Washington State University spring rituals that have changed the lives of generations of students.

There are the hours in the shop spent designing, soldering, and sanding. Bridge building practice with a stopwatch. Pouring concrete mixes. Road trips to competitions. Swamping, cracking, or paddling for a win. Presentations and timed races. And, finally, an awards ceremony and the long trip home.

WSU has long been known for its active chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), where students get hands-on and real-world experience that they later bring into the workplace.

Thanks to support of alumni and donors, including from employees of Coughlin Porter Lundeen, and from Grant and Carol Buckingham, the student group has permanent endowment support that will provide funds for future generations.

“The employees and principals totally back this,” said Jim Coughlin, a principal with CPL. “We wanted to give back to the university because we felt we gained so much from going through the strong program that WSU has.”

As an undergraduate, Coughlin didn’t participate in a concrete canoe or steel bridge competition but fondly remembers being the only American club in a Canadian concrete toboggan competition. As he remembers, the WSU club was winning, but the Canadians changed the competition rules half-way through when they saw who was going to win.

More important than winning or losing the competition, though, was getting to work as a team on a project and learning the real work of designing and engineering.

“We were proud of the toboggan we made, had a lot of fun doing it, went on a trip, and had a great time,” he says.

As students, the Buckinghams were also active members of the ASCE student chapter, and Carol participated on the concrete canoe team.

For many alumni, the ASCE club activities were vital for their development as professional engineers, but the club also taught them valuable and fondly remembered life lessons.

“As a group, our alumni feel like we got a great education at WSU,” said Coughlin. “We want to give back and help make sure that the quality of education there is maintained.”