Engineering students at the University of Central Florida are closer to their dream of building their competition steel bridges and concrete canoes in a modern facility, thanks to the generosity of donors and the efforts of a recent UCF alumna leading the cause.

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ UCF chapter hope a fundraising campaign now underway by the UCF Foundation will raise enough money – about $400,000 – to replace the old, scrappy wooden pavilion they now use with a new 3,200-square foot prefabricated facility. They also hope to receive in-kind donations such as materials and services.

The effort is led by the club’s former vice president, Catherine Felter, who graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Felter, alongside current ASCE president and junior civil engineering major, Dayna Duffy, stayed on as the project chair to see the plan through.

With funding, the new building would break ground in 2017. The proposed plans include an indoor and outdoor work space, classroom and restrooms.

Currently, the 140 ASCE students must do their work – hands-on, sweaty labor that requires welding and other heavy power tools – in a bare-minimum, open-air wooden structure that does not have a restroom. The building was formerly UCF’s Hydraulics Lab until 2001, and is accessed from Neptune Drive on UCF’s main campus where numerous university labs are located.

The proposed new facility would be built between UCF’s Robinson Observatory and the Storm Water Research Lab.

“Constructing a new building is a top priority for ASCE. Not only is the current work space too small and unsafe, it is not ideal to work with welders and power tools with little protection from inclement weather,” said Felter, a project engineer at CivilCorp Engineering, Inc. “Additionally, the current shop is poorly lit, and many of the members work on projects at night.”

The new space would help bolster the group’s competitive advantage at annual events like the ASCE Southeastern Conference, where UCF students compete against 20 engineering schools from across the southeast U.S. and Puerto Rico in the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge categories.

Building for the competition requires extensive design and fabrication, with some bridges and canoes spanning about 20 feet once completed. Since 2012, UCF has placed in the top 10 overall at ASCE Southeast Regionals, with top-five finishes in 2013 and 2015.

The updated space will take six to eight weeks to build and would allow the club to advance their success at the regional and national level.

UCF Facilities, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering have approved ASCE’s proposal.

CECS and CECE have each pledged $20,000 toward the project. ASCE at UCF is able to accept in-kind donations to offset their fundraising goal, and have received sponsorships from the following companies: Southeastern Surveying, CivilCorp Engineering, Inc., Florida Bridge and Transportation, Comprehensive Engineering Services, Inc., Bergeron Land Development, Inc., Evans Engineering, Inc.

“This new shop will allow our organization to grow and continue providing members with fun projects and learning opportunities,” said Duffy.

ASCE is a robust, active student organization at UCF. It is the second-largest of the more than 20 engineering-related student clubs on campus; and is among the largest of more than 20 ASCE student chapters in the U.S. southeast. The club’s main focus is preparing students for professional careers. In addition to developing skills and competing, student members log hundreds of community service hours each year.

To find out more about this effort, contact Catherine Felter, ASCE at UCF project chair, at feltercatherine@gmail.com. Other needed in-kind donations include pipe and installation (wet tap water and wastewater), landscaping, materials, MEP design and installation, air conditioning unit. All cash donations will be made through the UCF Foundation, Inc. Contact Robin Knight, CECS senior director of development, at robin.knight@ucf.edu to contribute. For more information on the project or to become a sponsor, please visit www.asceucf.org.

(Pictured: Dayna Duffy (left) and Catherine Felter (right) at current outdoor facility on Neptune Drive.)

– CECS –