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UC Berkeley Students Triumph in National Steel Bridge Competition

July 2008 Volume 33, Number 7

Short Takes

Engineering students from the University of California at Berkeley were awarded first place in this year’s National Student Steel Bridge Competition, the final round of which was held at the University of Florida in May.  

The competition is supported by local and national sponsors, including ASCE and the American Institute of Steel Construction, and is designed “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,” according to the contest rules

The teams received a problem statement informing them that their state department of transportation (DOT) wanted them to construct a scale model of a new bridge as part of a proposal that would replace a century-old bridge. “Your company’s design/build proposal is among those that the DOT has deemed responsive, and winning the contract would be a step toward becoming a leader in the bridge replacement market,” the problem statement reads. 

Engineering students from around the country designed and fabricated 1:10 scale models of steel bridges on their campuses. The entries were judged on the basis of structural efficiency and construction economy, with attention also given to weight, stiffness, appearance, and construction speed. Structural engineers, contractors, and experts from the steel fabrication industry judged the competition and named the Berkeley engineering team the winner, marking the university’s first win in the 17-year competition.

The Berkeley team won second place in the categories of construction economy and construction speed and first place in the areas of efficiency and lightness. The teams from the University of Florida and the University of California at Davis finished second and third overall. Plaques were awarded to the winning teams at a banquet held on May 24.

To qualify for the national competition, teams must place first, second, or third—depending upon the number of competitors—in regional competitions, which are held in conjunction with ASCE student conferences. For more information about this year’s competition, visit Information about next year’s competition may be obtained by visiting the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Web site ( and clicking on “Competitions & Awards.”