April 10, 2023

NDSU GeoWall team wins national competition


The NDSU GeoWall team of engineering students earned first place at the recent national competition in Los Angeles.

NDSU took first place with a score of 280.9 at the National GeoWall Competition on March 26 in Los Angeles.

“It was honestly unreal. We usually place pretty high at the national competition, so I was hoping for top four,” said Lexie Rennemo, team co-captain and senior civil engineering student from Baudette, Minnesota, on winning the competition. “Seeing our score top the list was unbelievable, I didn't realize how much I wanted to win until it happened. I can't even begin to describe how happy I was.”

Other NDSU team members include Sawyer Aleckson (co-captain), Jon Oelkers and Meghan Smude.

The team was advised by Surya Congress, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, and Dinesh Katti, Jordan A. Engberg presidential professor in Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

GeoWall is one of four GeoChallenge Competitions students are invited to participate in at the annual Geo-Congress event hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The objective of the competition is to design and build a model mechanically stabilized Earth retaining wall using paper reinforcement taped to posterboard. The competition is judged based on the team’s technical report and on-site testing of their design.

“Civil engineering is a combination of five different disciplines and figuring out which disciple interests you the most can be overwhelming,” said Rennemo. “Getting involved in GeoWall helped me make the decision to commit to geotechnical engineering. I would encourage all students to get involved on campus especially with the organizations that give you hands-on experience.”

NDSU has historically been successful at regional and national GeoWall competitions. The team placed first at regional competitions in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, the team placed third at the national competition and in 2022, they placed fourth.

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