Engineers might have a reputation as a stuffy bunch, but a group of students are out to prove otherwise.
They started with a round of concrete Frisbee.
Yes, it’s possible to create a concrete blend flexible and lightweight enough to toss among friends, said Arizona State University engineering major Cortni Sable, who helped organize the threeday Conference del Sol, a gathering of about 600 engineering students from throughout the Southwest.
The public is invited to today’s concluding events at Tempe Town Lake, when students will launch their concrete canoes.
"Basically, we’re saying, ‘Hey, engineering education is fun. Look at the things you get to do,’ " Sable said.
The conference, sponsored by ASU’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, has focused on the latest in engineering, including ways to help remove ash from drinking water during wildfires such as last summer’s Rodeo-Chediski fire.
But it’s also designed to reach out to women and minorities.
Jobs in the field are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent in the next 10 years, yet statistics show that as few as 9 percent of engineers are women.
But the numbers for women and minorities are going up. Nationwide, the percentage of female civil engineering students has risen to about 25 percent, up from 13 percent just three years ago, said Claudia Zapata, a faculty research associate in civil engineering, who researches pavement and soils in Arizona.
For months, students have worked on their concrete canoes, which can be up to 20 feet long.
Students from Hawaii had to ship their 600-pound canoe to Tempe, but most towed theirs to Tempe in rented trailers.
The concrete Frisbees usually weigh up to about 10 pounds, Sable said.
"We were debating back and forth between concrete golf and concrete Frisbee," she said.
"Those of us who are actually golfers didn’t want to contribute our clubs to concrete golf," she said.
What: Conference del Sol, an engineering conference designed to prove that engineering can be fun
Where: Tempe Town Lake
When: Concrete canoe race, 9 and 11 a.m. today