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Steel Bridge Team of PSU Student Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers Wins Regional Competition
Author: Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science
Posted: May 9, 2012

The Steel Bridge Team of the Portland State University chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) won the Pacific Northwest intercollegiate regional competition hosted by the University of Washington April 27-29. The competition requires civil engineering students to design and fabricate a steel bridge. The regional win qualifies the PSU team to compete in the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) - ASCE sponsored national Student Steel Bridge Competition May 25-26 at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. 

Competing against 11 other teams from universities in Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Washington State, and British Columbia, the PSU Steel Bridge Team placed first overall and in 4 separate categories that included weight, assembly speed, efficiency, and economy.

On the team’s win, Dean Renjeng Su of the Maseeh College said, “Our Steel Bridge Team made us proud by winning the top prize in a competition featuring the best engineering schools from across the Northwest. These civil engineering students have done more than put their knowledge to work. They have ignited their power of imagination. This is what we want our students to do.”

The six-member build team is led by Captain Greg Glaze and includes Zak White, Jonathan Sweet, Jason Elgin, Brian Cook, and Christina Charvet. Other Steel Bridge Team members critical to the group’s success include Rich Glade, Rebekah Huschka, Katherin Theilig, and Sydney Reader. All members are civil engineering students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Maseeh College.

According to the AISC, the goal of the competition is “to supplement the education of civil engineering students with a comprehensive, student-driven project experience from conception and design through fabrication, erection, and testing, culminating in a steel structure that meets client specifications and optimizes performance and economy.”

Assembly Captain Zak White said, “Engineering students are hungry for hands-on experiences.” The competition provides this type of tangible, real world experience by mimicking the bidding process of a request for proposal of an actual bridge construction project. Every August the AISC releases the rules and specifications for that academic year’s competition. Competing in the competition requires months of preparation.

The 2012 competition asked students to design and build a proposal for a mock company called Broken Paddle Resort, Inc., which wished to build a lodge and a new bridge to span the Phantom River.  Bridge design proposals had to meet many specifications (click here for the 2012 rules). The PSU Steel Bridge Team set strict deadlines for itself related to design, fabrication, and process in order to be ready for the April regional competition.

At the competition itself, teams were scored on construction speed, lightness, display, stiffness, economy, and efficiency, and received penalties for such things as line violations or dropping tools and bridge parts. Teams had to build their bridges as quickly as possible. The finished product was then subjected to a number of tests, including lateral and vertical load tests. The overall score reflected the total hypothetical price of the team’s bridge proposal. The competition and the rules were fierce. The PSU team won with an overall score of $5,200,000, with second place finisher the University of Alaska-Fairbanks scoring $5,697,500 and last place finisher Montana Tech coming in 10th with a score of a whopping $107,925,000 (two teams were completely disqualified).

When asked how it felt to win the regional competition, Captain Greg Glaze remarked, “Winning at regionals was a great accomplishment for our team, the ASCE, and for the PSU Maseeh College.  We worked very hard this year, and no matter what happens at nationals, we had fun learning together how to develop and fabricate a successful bridge design.”

Congratulations PSU Steel Bridge Team and good luck at the national competition at Clemson University at the end of May!