Thursday, July 19, 2012

Students Take Part in National Steel Bridge Competition

Pictured with the bridge are: (Back Row, L-R) Paul Eginton-Kautz, Dylan Parr, Vincent Hynes. (Center Row, L-R) Jeffrey Portal, Thomas Loveless, Dominic Santaniello, Jessica Barringer, Theresa Sobocinski. (Front Row, L-R) Michael Bedson, Christine Barry, James Centrella, Stephen Bruno, Peter Andrews, Nicholas Lorenzo. Not Pictured: ASCE faculty advisor Brian Swartz.
The University of Hartford student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) participated in the National Steel Bridge Competition for the first time this spring. The competition is sponsored by the national ASCE organization and AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction). The University of Hartford competed in the regional tournament, hosted on the campus of UMass-Amherst this year.

The competition requires students to simulate a realistic design and construction scenario. This year’s rules required teams to construct a model scale bridge 22 feet long and 3 feet wide as proof of concept for a larger structure. There were very strict limits related to the geometry and construction of the bridge.

The bridge must be built up entirely of pieces that fit within a 4"x6" box that is three feet long. Those pieces were all fabricated – cut, drilled, and welded – by the student team in advance of the competition. At the competition site, the team is judged on their ability to construct the bridge quickly and without penalty (i.e. stepping in an area designated as “water,” dropping a tool, etc.)

The bridge is further judged for its strength and stiffness in a load test once assembled. Strength-to-weight ratio is a major scoring criterion. The bridge is also judged for its aesthetic appeal.

The University of Hartford team’s bridge survived the many rigors of the competition – a rare feat for a team competing in its first year. They finished 9th of the 11 teams in the regional competition. The student group is energized for next year’s competition now that they have a better understanding of what it takes to compete. They considered it a valuable learning and team-building experience.

The project was sponsored by the University of Hartford SGA, Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers, Bartlett Brainard and Eacott, United Steel, Shepard Steel, Macri Associates, Construction Institute, and CT Space Grant.

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