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Steel bridge team welds for regional competition

Submitted by Jennifer Carter
Phone: (907) 378-2797

03/26/04

Sparks fly during the welding of a steel bridge. Sparks are flying in the University of Alaska Fairbanks civil engineering machine shop as the student steel bridge team prepares for this year's regional competition. This intercollegiate contest challenges student engineers to design and fabricate a bridge following a strict set of guidelines. The team will travel to the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls for the Pacific Northwest regional competition April 1, 2004.

Civil and environmental engineering Professor Leroy Hulsey has been advising the steel bridge team at UAF for the past decade. Students enrolled in his class during the spring semester earn credit for their participation. Although the criteria permits teams to contract out the construction of the bridge, the UAF team has both the equipment and skills to do their own welding and assembly.

"The competition lets us apply what we've learned in the classroom and get an understanding of the complications of actual design and construction," said second-year competitor Robert Casey. The bridges are designed to span an imaginary river and hold a load of 25,000 pounds. They are given scores based on "deflection" or the amount of up and down movement, aesthetics, weight and assembly time. The rules are typically modified each year to keep the contest competitive.

The winner and first runner-up of the regional competition are invited to compete at the national competition, which will take place at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, May 28, 2004. The UAF team has competed at the national level a number of times with an impressive success rate including taking first in 1993, fourth in 1995, tying for first in 1996 and placing sixth last year.

The team isn't divulging details about this year's design, but is optimistic that it will be another successful year.

Civil engineering students Alicia Braham, Dan Brusehaber, Robert Casey, Aaron Eversman, Pauline Fusco, Josh Hunter, Jeremy McNeight, Wilhelm Muench, Curtis Nordin, Jennifer Satterfield, Matt Shawcroft, Agnes Stowe, Jokob Theurich and Timothy Zinza make up this year's team.

The competition is sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and co-sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Note to editors: a high-resolution downloadable photo is available at http://www.uaf.edu/files/news/download/releasephotos/steelbridge.jpg.

CONTACT: Jennifer Carter, civil engineering intern at (907) 378-2797 or e-mail fnjac1@uaf.edu, or Leroy Hulsey, team advisor at (907) 474-7816 or e-mail ffjlh@uaf.edu for more information or visit http://oitasce.managemy.org/default.asp for competition results.