Tech Team Second In Engineering Software Contest

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. March 15, 2010 – Two New Mexico Tech students won second place in a design competition at the annual conference of the Geo-Institute, a branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers, in February in Florida.

 Ahmed Hussien (left) and Ali Rahnama won second place in a software design competition at Geo-Institute, the conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Ahmed Mustafa Hussien, an undergraduate student in civil engineering, and Ali Rahnama, a graduate student in mineral engineering, were honored for their exceptional performance in the student design competition.

Faculty advisor Dr. Mehrdad Razavi said he was impressed that the Tech students performed so well in their first attempt at the ASCE competition.

“In the short time they could work on it, they did a great job,” Dr. Razavi said. “It was a national competition and we are really pleased that they got second place.”

The competitors were given a diagram of a cofferdam with set dimensions and asked to predict the net pressure distribution on the cofferdam by developing a finite difference code. The competition proscribed specific soil, soil profile and cofferdam size. Hussien and Rahnama selected MATLAB to write software and wrote an accompanying paper. They then created a poster for the conference.

The teams were given about two weeks to work on the problem prior to the conference. A panel of judges evaluated the entrants and selected the top four to attend the conference.

“I thought it was amazing how in a short period of time, we could come up with a program that software companies sell to consulting firms,” said Hussien, a graduate of Los Lunas High School. “We were applying our class knowledge to a real-world problem. It was based on things we learn in class, but we applied a different method of doing it.”

A native of Iran, Rahnama said he and Hussien devised the most accurate, most efficient code for calculating pressure. They also added a graphing feature.

The duo said the conference was an excellent professional opportunity. Hussien said he even had one job offer during the event.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech