Saturday saw the 43rd annual NAIT Construction Engineering Bridge Building Event take place. Eight teams competed to be the first to build a rope suspension bridge and then use that bridge to get themselves and some cargo across the Whitemud Creek and back.
Ian Lysak is the President of the Construction Engineering Student Council and he says that aim of the event is more than just the competition. With a pair of corporate teams joining student teams from both NAIT and the U of A he says, it’s an excellent networking opportunity.
“Networking is one of the main goals of NAIT, trying to increase ties between students and industry to try to bridge that gap and make it easier for students coming out to get jobs and this is one of the events that we can do that at. So, students get to work alongside industries to build these bridges and it really helps out them and gets them some exposure as well.”
This year was by far the chilliest for the competition, and the temperature wasn’t the only unusual thing. Ordinarily the minimum number of females per team is three, but this year they had to reduce that requirement to one.
“We ran into a little bit of a hiccough this year, because the first year construction engineering teams, we have three classes and we try to aim for one team per class, a couple of the classes, just due to enrollment, however it worked out, didn’t have any females in their classes so it became a little bit more difficult than that and we were worried a couple teams would drop out.”
He says the trend in lower number of women enrolling is nothing new.
“A general problem with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields is female enrolment and being able to get more women engaged in what we do. It’s really important for us to try to promote that and try to bring in as many women as we can. It’s certainly an industry that’s far from equal and it would definitely benefit from being more equal between the genders.”
This year’s winner, for the 4th year in row, was Clark Builders. Oh, and this year only one competitor went for an accidental dip in the creek. They were quickly dried off, warmed up and they’re alright.