SCE Hosts Successful Steel Bridge Competition

UMKC students show what Kansas City has to offer

More than 650 engineering students, guests, judges and faculty attended the National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 22-23 in Kansas City, hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering.

“Overall, the 2015 competition was a great success in every category,” said Sean Michael, past president of the UMKC student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers Kansas City. “We set out to raise the bar for the competition and show off what UMKC and Kansas City has to offer. This year’s national competition was the most efficient and fastest in history, and we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback about how beautiful downtown Kansas City is and how much fun the attendees had.”

The Student Steel Bridge Competition is an inter-collegiate challenge that tests the knowledge of civil engineering students as they design, fabricate and construct a steel bridge. The bridges had to follow specifications explained in the rule book. Teams that competed in Kansas City were eligible winners and runners-up from regional competitions. Next year’s competition will be hosted by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The annual national competition is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction.

This year’s contest attracted 48 teams from throughout North America, and the University of Florida took home first place honors. Second place went to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Third place went to École de Technologie Supérieure, Montreal, Quebec.

Awards were also presented for these categories: construction speed, SUNY College of Technology at Canton; lightness, University of Florida; display, Clemson University; stiffness, George Mason; economy, SUNY College of Technology at Canton; and efficiency, University of Florida.

Coordinating the competition took many hours to plan, dozens of volunteers to work the two-day event, and generous support from Kansas City engineering companies.

“The fact that we were able to not only pull it off, but arguably host the best competition in history really says a lot about the quality of UMKC, its students and the support we had from the engineering community here in Kansas City,” said Jerry Richardson, Ph. D., SCE associate professor. “This event isn’t just national anymore. We had six international teams. These are the future engineers that Kansas City wants working here and this event really put a positive image of the community in their minds. Also, with the show of support that our sponsors gave us in coming out to the competition, I think it is safe to say that we may have some members of those 48 teams returning to Kansas City in the future for employment.”

The competition offered future structural engineers the opportunity to display their skills in steel design, steel fabrication and teamwork. The bridges designed by the student teams were scored by a panel of 40 judges in areas including construction time, stiffness, weight, how economically it was built, how it was displayed and how efficiently it was built.

The 2015 competition received additional sponsorship by the American Galvanizers Association, American Iron and Steel Institute, Bentley Sustaining Infrastructure, CISCA-ICCA, BS Solidworks, National Steel Bridge Alliance, the Nucor Corporation and The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation.

Regional sponsors were ARCO National Construction, ASCE Kansas City, Black & Veatch, Bridge Grid  Flooring Manufacturers Association, Burns & McDonnell, D.S. Brown, GBA Architects Engineers, HNTB, Kansas Department of Transportation, SEI Kansas City Chapter, Terracon and TranSystems.

The local planning committee included Katie Gonzagowski, Laura Irwin, Jose Lopez, Sean Micheal, Paige Norris, Marco Toapanta; and faculty advisers John Kevern, Ph.D., and Richardson.

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