Steel Bridge Team places 6th in Nationals

UAF is celebrating the accomplishments of the 2016 UAF CEM ASCE Steel Bridge team as they return from the National competition winning sixth place overall.

 2016 ASCE Steel Bridge Team

Photo above (from left to right): Shane Ohms, Catherine Estus, Nick Marcello, Nathan Barnett, Elliot Anderson, Scott Taylor, Wilhelm Muench, Ryan Burnham, Mayra Cedeno, Danny Smith.

The American Society of Civil Engineers hosts the ASCE Steel Bridge Competition each year as a test of skill and knowledge for engineering students. This year, the ten-member UAF Steel Bridge Team earned the right to compete at nationals in early April after placing first overall against 250 teams in the Pacific Northwest regional competition at the University of Idaho. They have now earned six place overall at the National competition in Provo, Utah, competing against the top 45 teams in the nation. Teams from China, Mexico and Canada competed as well.

UAF began competing in the AISC/ASCE Steel Bridge Contest in 1993 and won the Regional and National competitions that year. In 1995, the team placed 4th in the nation and in 1996, tied for first place at Nationals. They continue to place at high levels over the years. Last year, the team placed first overall at Regionals, and came in ninth overall at Nationals.

This competition was developed to provide students an avenue to test their skills and classroom knowledge using real world applications, and to provide students with an opportunity to compare their skills with their peers. The competition includes metrics in a number of areas, including lightness, structural efficiency, construction economy, construction speed, stiffness, display, and overall performance. The guidelines for the bridges change each year, requiring teams to develop new designs for each competition.

Team members this year include: Elliott Anderson, Catherine Estus, Wilhelm Muench, Nick Marcello, Scott Taylor, Ryan Burnham, Nathan Barnett, Shane Ohms, Danny Smith and Mayra Cedeno. UAF engineering professor Leroy Hulsey serves as advisor to the team. The CEM ASCE students were able to compete on both the regional and national levels thanks to the generous sponsorship of many companies and individuals. Students are responsible for raising the funds that carry them through to Nationals.

Details of 2016 UAF CEM ASCE Bridge: The 2016 rules were similar to the rules in 2015. The dimensional specifications and the loading were almost identical. The major changes in the rules were the overall span (19.5 feet instead of 18.5 feet) and more freedom to design innovative and quick-to- assemble connections. The 2016 bridge (designed by Elliott Anderson) sported a delicate lower chord spanning 20.5 feet along with a stout 13/4 inch upper chord. The bridge had a clearance of 21 inches over the river and a total height of 48 inches. Just as previous years, the bridge was manufactured out of 4130 chrome molly steel. Much attention and time was spent designing and manufacturing state- of-the-art connections for the bridge to allow for quick assembly. In addition, members in the lower truss were standardized to accelerate the manufacturing process.


The 2016 UAF Steel Bridge team practice at the hallway of the Duckering Building before competing in the Nationals competition. UAF Photo by JR Ancheta.


Catherine Estus adds the finishing touches to the 2016 steel bridge model during a practice run in the Duckering Building. UAF Photo by JR Ancheta.


The 2016 UAF Steel Bridge team practice at the hallway of the Duckering Building before competing in the Nationals competition. UAF Photo by JR Ancheta.