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NDSU Team Triumphs in Steel Bridge Competition

July/August Volume 35, Number 7/8

Short Takes


The team from North Dakota State University (NDSU) was this year’s winner in the 2010 Student Steel Bridge Competition, the final round of which was held May 28–29 at Purdue University. This year marked the 19th anniversary of the competition, which is sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction in cooperation with ASCE. NDSU also won the competition in 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002, and 1995.

The student teams are challenged to design, fabricate, and construct a scaled steel bridge. The mission of the competition is 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 problem posed in the competition this year was that each team was to see itself as a company authorized to construct a 1:10 scale model of a bridge for an oil field developer in the Arctic tundra. There were several unusual requirements: “Due to the force of moving ice, permanent piers will not be placed in the river or floodway. However, temporary piers may be used during construction. Footings are restricted to locations of existing thaw-stable gravel deposits on both banks. To minimize impact on the tundra, construction equipment and materials are permitted on only one bank and on barges in the river. Tundra conditions limit the weight of loads that may be moved.”

In addition to winning the overall competition, ndsu placed first in the categories of construction speed and economy and came in third with regard to efficiency. The University of California at Berkeley placed first in the categories of stiffness and efficiency, the Illinois Institute of Technology placed first with respect to lightness, and California State University at Northridge placed first in display. Berkeley placed second overall, and Lakehead University, in Ontario, placed third.

To qualify for the national competition, teams must, depending on the number of competitors, place first, second, or third in regional rounds, which are held in conjunction with ASCE’s student conferences. For more information about this year’s competition, visit