Civil and Environmental Engineering Team Wins National Sustainability Competition

Thursday, 27 June 2024
A group photo of the Sustainable Solutions Team

Georgia Tech's 2024 Sustainable Solutions Team

Georgia Tech has won first place at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Sustainable Solutions Competition.

This is the second year in a row that the Yellow Jackets have won first place. Georgia Tech bested 17 other teams from around the country in the event, which was part of the ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championships at Brigham Young University June 20-22.

To say we are elated is an understatement,” said the team’s captain Mary Helvie, a fourth year civil engineering student. “A lot of us (most of all me) felt a lot of pressure from winning the previous year. We had big shoes to fill. We spent countless hours working together on this project and it's something we are extremely proud of.”

The Sustainable Solutions Competition challenges college students to address real-world issues with creative engineering solutions. For the 2024 competition, students were asked to respond to a fictional request for proposals to revitalize and redevelop an abandoned industrial waterfront area in a flood plain.

The area had three parcels the team was charged with designing. Their winning proposal included:

  • A stormwater park to minimize flooding and increase water infiltration, inspired by Atlanta’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park and the Georgia Tech EcoCommons.
  • A five-story multi-use building with housing units, a grocery store, clinic, gym, bike repair shop, and more.
  • An education center, restaurant, and community garden. All of the buildings in this parcel had solar panels and were elevated for flood proofing.

“There was an existing railroad track in one of the parcels that was abandoned and unusable,” Helvie said. “Our team proposed transforming the area into a "rail trail" inspired by Atlanta's rails to trails program. Along this multiuse trail we proposed community markets and a commemorative arch made from the existing railroad tracks.”

Each of the participating schools in the competition were regional winners with impressive projects. Ultimately, Helvie said it was Georgia Tech’s hard work, collaboration, and thoroughness that set them apart.

 “We worked together and brainstormed the smallest details leaving no stone unturned,” Helvie said. “We weren't afraid to ask our peers, professors, and industry professionals for guidance when we needed it. Most of all, we each contributed, giving our everything to the project and knew we could rely on our teammates to do the same.” 

The team’s faculty advisor, Professor of the Practice Fred Meyer, said the students’ efforts were inspiring.

“I’m so proud of how our students came together to develop such a thoughtful, creative and sustainable design to address the future needs of our society,” Meyer said.