UALR construction engineering majors Ignace Nkurikiyimfura and Pacifique Nshuti traveled to Texas A&M in May to attend the National Student Steel Bridge Competition. Teams of college students from all across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico designed, analyzed, optimized, fabricated, erected, and tested their 21-foot-long steel bridges all year long, and then transported them to a regional competition to compete against other teams in seven events. The teams and bridges that did well at their regional competitions were invited to the national competition at Texas A&M. The seven events included:
- Display Competition
- Timed Construction Competition
- Construction Cost
- Lightness Competition
- Stiffness Competition
- Structural Efficiency Competition
- Overall Competition
The UALR students volunteered on the competition floor. Mr. Nkurikiyimfura was a Marshal, responsible for leading a team from start to finish through all of the competition stations and events. The winners of the timed construction competition erected their bridges in less than four minutes! Mr. Nshuti assisted with the Lightness and Stiffness Competitions, helping the judges measure the weight and stiffness of the bridges—75 pounds of side loading simulated the wind, and 1600 pounds of vertical loading simulated the live load that the bridge was required to carry. These loads caused the bridges to deform, and the sway (lateral deformation) and the deflection (vertical deformation) were measured in fractions of an inch using advanced technology.
The UALR students plan to form a team next year and enter one of the regional competitions as a guest team. In the following year, which will be their senior year UALR, they hope to compete in the regional competition and qualify for the national competition. The competitions are sponsored jointly by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The 2012 National Student Steel Bridge Competition will be held on the campus of Clemson University in South Carolina. The following video shows excerpts from the Timed Construction Competition in previous years.