UC-Berkeley students champs in National Student Steel Bridge Competition

A team of students from the University of California, Berkeley, have been named champions in the 21st annual ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC), held May 25-26 at Clemson University, S.C. Second place went to the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took third overall.

Nearly 600 students from the qualifying 47 university teams convened to display their engineering prowess in the competition finals. This inter-collegiate competition challenges civil engineering students to work together to design, fabricate and construct their scaled steel bridges in the shortest time and under specific building constraints.

The bridges were judged in six key categories related to steel design and construction: construction speed; stiffness; lightness; economy; display; and efficiency. The teams with the best combined rankings across all six categories earn overall award recognition.

This is the second time UC Berkeley has won the national title in their history. Their steel bridge entry, ApoCALypse, placed first in the categories of economy and construction speed, second in efficiency, and third in lightness.

“Everyone was motivated and resilient this year after what happened last year,” (UC Berkeley’s bridge failed the lateral load test) commented Sabrina Odah, bridge project manager for the UC Berkeley team, in a press release. “We didn’t let that failure break us. We all had the sense that this was our year.”

Throughout the academic year, student teams work for months perfecting the design, fabrication and construction of each bridge. To reach the national event, each team must place among the top schools in one of 18 regional competitions held across the country each year. This year, about 200 university teams from around the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China participated in the regional competitions.

“It’s exciting to watch the next generation of structural engineers come together and work with such passion and enthusiasm,” said Nancy Gavlin, AISC director of education. “This year’s bridge posed difficult challenges that the students faced with ingenuity and professionalism.”
The top three winners in each category were the following:

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Construction Speed
•    University of California, Berkeley
•    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
•    SUNY College of Technology at Canton
•    University of Louisiana at Lafayette
•    University of Akron
•    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
•    Michigan Technological University
•    Lakehead University
•    University of California, Berkeley
•    University of California, Berkeley
•    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
•    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
•    Milwaukee School of Engineering
•    Vanderbilt University
•    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
•    Michigan Technological University
•    University of California, Berkeley
•    University of Wisconsin-Madison

The NSSBC is sponsored by AISC in cooperation with ASCE and is co-sponsored by Bentley Systems, DS SolidWorks Corp., Nucor, the National Steel Bridge Alliance, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, the Steel Structures Education Foundation, and Nelson Stud Welding.

The final results and more photos of the competition are available at www.nssbc.info/History/2012NSSBCResults.pdf.

For more information about the NSSBC, visit www.aisc.org/steelbridge or www.nssbc.info.