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Bridge Competition Showcases Student Design Skills
Posted by on September 28, 2007 at 12:03 PM.

Like the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990s and the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls, North Dakota State University has created its own dynasty. This past May, a team of NSDU civil engineering students gave the school its fifth National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC) title and its second in a row; the school also won in 1995, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Coming in second and third place this year were the University of California, Davis and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.


This year’s competition, which took place May 25–26 at California State University, Northridge, marked the 16th anniversary of the annual event and the 20th anniversary of the Regional Student Steel Bridge Competitions. Each year, the NSSBC offers future structural engineers the opportunity to display their skills in steel design, steel fabrication, and teamwork. Teams fabricate the parts and practice erection in the months leading up to the competition, creating 20-ft spans that must be capable of supporting a load of 2,500 lb. During the actual competition, erection time is of the essence, and NSDU’s team was able to put their 108-lb bridge together in around five minutes.

Forty-three student teams from across the country participated in this year’s competition, and more than 600 students, faculty, and guests, including AISC president Roger Ferch, attended the awards banquet on May 26.

Besides the overall category, awards were also given in the categories of construction speed, stiffness, lightness, economy, display (formerly aesthetics), and efficiency.


Fromy Rosenberg, AISC’s Director of University Relations, commented, “Every student team competing in the regional and national competition, regardless of rank, is a winner. Student teams work for months perfecting the design, fabrication, and construction of each steel bridge. The dedication, hard work, and ingenuity shown by each team is impressive.”


Next year’s NSSBC will be held on May 23–24 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Visit the official 2008 NSSBC site at for more details and information.

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