UT hosted the 2019 Southeast Regional Steel Bridge Competition, which was held in tandem with the ASCE Southeast Conference March 28–30. The UT student team celebrated a fourth place win out of 18 school teams.
Each year, this competition challenges student teams from across the southeast to design, fabricate, construct, and load test a roughly 1:10-scale model steel bridge that must be 20 feet long and be able to withstand a load of 2,500 pounds. Students are judged for not only meeting all of the requirements of construction, but also for their efficiency in assembling the bridge and for its aesthetic qualities.
The competition challenges students to use their classroom knowledge in a practical, hands-on competition while also strengthening their interpersonal and professional skills, encouraging innovation, and fostering relationships between students and industry professionals.
“I enjoyed returning to the thrill of the competition this year,” said Professor Tim Truster, one of the faculty advisors to the UT students who also competed for three years as a bachelor’s student. “This competition gives our students a real scenario for both designing and building a structure within constraints.”
Professor Mark Denavit was the UT team’s other faculty advisor and said he likes the competition because it provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience on aspects of construction that are not typically taught in the classroom.
“Personally, I enjoyed the interaction from a faculty mentor because they are such great educators,” said UT student team captain Andrew Shahan. “I also enjoyed the teamwork because we had to work through difficult tasks despite our difference in ideas. Overall, the competition was a success because we all walked away knowing more than we did when we first started.”
Both Truster and Denavit noted that the bridges don’t always hold up under the load testing, and that can be a great learning experience for the students as well.