2022 Regional Competition: Return to In-Person Competition!

Ames, IA | April 21st-23rd

The Student Steel Bridge Regional Competition this year was held at Iowa State at the Region 7 ASCE Symposium. The Steel Bridge team, along with the Missouri S&T Concrete Canoe team and three ASCE representatives, started the journey to Iowa State Thursday morning. Both design teams were very excited for the return to in-person competitions since the past two years had been either canceled or virtual due to COVID-19. When the team arrived that afternoon, they checked in and headed to build practice at the Iowa Expo Center. Following build practice, the team went out to dinner and later enjoyed trivia and networking with other teams during a social event. 

Friday morning, the team got up bright and early to compete since they had volunteered to build first. During inspection prior to building, it was discovered there were a couple members that did not fit in the member box because of welds that had been added to the plates. Although discouraged to hear this, the build team put it behind themselves and focused on building the bridge. Due to wet floor conditions the build team had a few more drops than anticipated and had to move a bit slower than they did in practice. The bridge was constructed in 7 minutes and 33 seconds with 6 drops.

Build team members Ben Harris, Brendan Schmidt, Garrett Coggin, Krysta Swartz, Michael Winner, and Zach Parr work to construct the bridge.

During inspection of the constructed bridge, the judges pointed out two more dimensional penalties associated with the team’s aligned piers. The team was further discouraged to hear they would receive more penalties especially since these dimensional penalties were simply a result of misinterpreting the rules.

Steel Bridge team members carefully load the bridge.

Nevertheless, the team was hopeful that minimal deflection under loading would help their score enough to still secure a trip to nationals. When all 2500 lbs of load was applied, the bridge’s aggregate deflection was less than 0.5”. The midspan deflected 0.46” and the cantilever deflected only 0.02”! The team spent the rest of the day watching other teams build and load their bridges. Afterwards, they went out to a team dinner that night and played some musical bingo.

Saturday the team got up to support Concrete Canoe during their aesthetics judging since their races had unfortunately been canceled due to bad weather. In the afternoon, the team went to the Missouri S&T’s Symposium Paper presentation and spent some time exploring Iowa State’s campus.

Saturday evening the team attended the awards dinner and banquet at the Sukup Endzone Club overlooking the football stadium. It was a beautiful view that was soon accompanied by a nearby tornado which made the social hour much more interesting as all the teams crowded into the kitchen hall in the basement to shelter. Once the storm had passed and dinner was enjoyed, the awards started. Our Steel Bridge team received 1st place in Construction Speed, Stiffness, Construction Economy, and Structural Efficiency, 2nd place in Lightness and Cost Estimation, and 3rd place in Aesthetics. Most importantly, the team secured their 4th consecutive first place overall at regional competition! Missouri S&T’s ASCE chapter also placed first in the Symposium Paper!

The team takes a group photo overlooking Jack Trice Stadium at the awards banquet.

While the team celebrated this win, they were well aware that the dimensional penalties they had received had jeopardized their win streak and potentially their ticket to national competition. As soon as the team returned to Rolla, adjustments were made to address the penalties that had been identified at regionals. Build team also continued to practice hard in order to cut down their time for the upcoming national competition.