Texas State civil engineering students to compete at national competition in Vancouver


Lane Fortenberry | February 22, 2024

Cason Grumbles, left, Lane Totino, Andrew Gombac, and Emily Parks pose for a photo with their wall design.
Cason Grumbles, left, Lane Totino, Andrew Gombac, and Emily Parks

A team of students in Texas State University’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter will compete at the 2024 Geo-Congress, the yearly ASCE Geo-Institute conference, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Feb. 26.

The team consists of Cason Grumbles, team lead and undergraduate, Lane Totino, undergraduate, Andrew Gombac, master’s student, and Emily Parks, undergraduate.

This is the first year of TXST’s ASCE student chapter and the first time the university has entered the competition.

“The team and I are extremely excited about going to compete in this year's national competition,” Gombac said. “To be selected as one of the top eight schools goes to show how much effort we put into our entry submission. Our participation at the event is a great way to kick off our chapter's inaugural year.”

Gombac and the rest of the team submitted a design report for an 18 inch tall, 18 inch wide, and 26 inch deep model earth-retaining wall, a small scale version of a wall similar to one seen on the side of a highway.

During the 12-school competition, the students will construct the wall from poster board, kraft paper, and tape. They must also work around a 3 inch tunnel made of PVC pipe that runs parallel to the wall, providing added challenges to traditional wall design. The wall will then be loaded with 50 pounds of soil and must not deflect, leak soil, or collapse. Competition scoring is also dependent on the amount of reinforcement used where less is better.

The team spent several weeks preparing soil samples, creating potential designs, and testing them with constructed models. Their submitted design uses a sparse 6.47 grams of reinforcement and is capable of supporting over 50 pounds.

“Schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Texas have attended past competitions, so we know we're going to have a fun challenge ahead of us,” Gombac said. “We heard about this competition through our soil mechanics professor, Dr. Stacey Kulesza. She has been a really big influence on us, and it's thanks to her that we were able to submit and be accepted into the competition.”

For more information about the conference, visit the Geo-Congress website.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922