Student engineers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are practicing the principles of bridge building by working on a scale model that has been entered in an annual competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction.
The Missouri S&T Steel Bridge Team will compete against approximately 12 teams from other universities during a regional competition to be hosted April 16-17 by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Team members design and fabricate bridges that are reassembled on site. Judges look at construction speed, design aesthetics, lightness, stiffness and structural efficiency. The bridges are “loaded” to test structural strength.
Last year, Missouri S&T placed fourth in regional competition. “We hope to improve in every category,” says Levi Smith, a senior in architectural engineering from St. Joseph, Mo. “This year, we are shooting for a bridge weight of less than 175 pounds and a construction time of less than five minutes. We’d like to get first in regionals and have a strong showing at nationals.”
Missouri S&T’s 2009 bridge is 18.5 feet long, 2.5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide.