Challenging University Students In Steel Bridge Construction

Who is this year’s university host for the National Student Steel Bridge Competition?

An important national event happened on May 23 – 24, 2014 at the University of Akron in Ohio – it’s time for the National Student Steel Bridge (NSSB) Competition. The competition is organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).

Competition Mechanics

The competition challenges various student teams to design and fabricate a steel bridge on a one-tenth scale. The participating university students are given the structural specifications and regulations on construction. The students are given the opportunity to practice project management, structural design and analysis, and learn techniques in fabrication. They also gain appreciation for the unique properties of steel in terms of strength and constructability.

Rapid Rivet - Pop Rivet Tools - May 2014 calatravaAISC’s Role In The National Bridge Competition

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), a co-sponsor of the NSSB competition – national level, provides assistance on travel funds for teams from North American schools that were invited to compete. The AISC gives $500 to each qualifying team from each conference from North American schools.

How Teams Are Invited In The National Level

Prior to the NSSB national level competition, conference competitions are held in conjunction with the 18 ASCE conferences. This is where the winners and first runners-up from the conferences are invited to join the national level competition. Winners in the conference competitions with 2, 3 or 4 participating universities, and the top three teams from a conference with 11 or more participating universities, are extended the invitation to compete in the national level.

Rapid Rivet - Pop Rivet Tools - May 2014 dscf1601AISC’s Role In Conference Student Steel Bridge Competitions

A university may submit more than one bridge entry in conference competition but only the best bridge entry may qualify for national competition. The AISC gives $175 to each North American university submitting a steel bridge entry in any conference competition while the host university is given $500 to assist with expenses incurred in organizing the Conference Student Steel Bridge Competition. Plaques for all the competitions are provided by AISC.

SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team

One of the student teams invited to the national level competition is the State University of New York at Canton (SUNY Canton) from the engineering technology programs. The SUNY Canton earned the invitation by winning third place in the Upstate Regional Competition. The SUNY Canton team picked up a couple of penalties at the regional which could have been avoided, according to Paul Hitchman, the steel bridge team adviser and he is confident that the team can continue to be competitive if they work a little harder at the national level.

Rapid Rivet - Pop Rivet Tools - May 2014 SUNY Canton bridge teamHow SUNY Canton Got Invited

The bridge entry from the SUNY Canton steel bridge team is designed to be extremely light without compromising its structural integrity. The SUNY Canton team placed fourth in construction speed. In real-life bridge construction, speed is achieved by using appropriate hand and power tools such as pop rivet tools. The SUNY Canton students also placed 8th in aesthetics while in stiffness and efficiency, they placed second in each category, and 7th in economy at the regional level.


Was your university invited to the national competition?