Steel Bridge

The Challenge
Civil Engineering students are challenged to an inter-collegiate competition that includes design, fabrication and construction of a steel bridge. Participating students gain practical experience in structural design, fabrication processes, construction planning, organization and teamwork. The competition is a scaled simulation of a representation structural engineering project.

The Design
Preparation for the Steel Bridge competition starts as early as May when initial designs are presented. Team members discuss how to improve a teammate's design. This process continues throughout the fall semester until a final design which produces the desired results is agreed upon. The design process involves the use of computer models to predict a bridge's behavior according to competition specifications.

Bridge designs usually develop from a suggestion proposed by a team member. The team member makes his presentation at the weekly team meeting which usually consists of a simple sketch on the blackboard and his reasoning for his thought. Then the rest of the team will throw out suggestions to improve the idea and tell that member why or why not the idea is good.

At the next meeting, the same student will make another presentation using the ideas and suggestions given to him by his teammates. Another round robin session will begin where the other teammates give suggestions. If the idea has some potential, the bridge design is thrown into STAAD (a computer program that will measure deflection and compute compressive and tensile forces in the members) so more information can be determined.

From here on, the design becomes a trial and error process. Results are generated from STAAD and modifications are made. Modifications usually consist of the addition or subtractions of members and the use of different grade/stock of steel. This process continues until the design yields desirable results. Modifications can even occur during fabrication, or even up until the day before competition!! 

Award Categories Include:
  1. Stiffness.
  2. Lightness
  3. Construction Speed
  4. Aesthetics
  5. Efficiency
  6. Economy
The Rules
The rules of the competition accommodate a large variety of design and allow innovation. Designers must consider carefully the comparative advantages of various alternatives. For example, a truss bridge may be stiffer than a girder bridge but slower to construct.
The Steel Bridge-Building Competition provides design and construction planning experience, an opportunity to learn fabrication procedures, and excitement of competing against students from other colleges and universities. The design, fabrication, assembly, and presentation of the steel bridge requires commitment and dedication involved.
The design stage can start as early as May. The key is the dedicated faculty, professionals, and student members who devote their time and knowledge. We acknowledge and applaud their efforts.

If you are a student interested in becoming a steel bridge team member, get involved! Contact the Captain Ameen Rizvi at

National Student Steel Bridge Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)