Steel Bridge Team Places 3rd at 2018 Pacific Northwest Regional Competition

Civil Engineering Students Progress to ASCE Nationals in Illinois

The UBC Steel Bridge team won 3rd place in last week’s regional competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE).  The 20 member team took their 17’ model bridge to the ASCE Pacific Northwest Conference in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to face off against 18 other teams and put their skills in bridge design and construction speed to the test. It was a heated competition, and the UBC 3rd place ranking was only 0.2% behind the second place team.

Founded at UBC in 1999, the Steel Bridge team is a place where Engineering students get to connect their in-class learning with hands-on experience in design. Students expand their knowledge of design programs AutoCAD, S-Frame, and SolidWork, and after the design stage they turn their plans into reality by fabricating the steel members of their bridge. Once all the components are made, the team practices their construction skills in order to take part in the competition, which not only scores the overall design, weight and loadbearing capacities of their structure, but how fast and efficiently it can be assembled. In the lead up to their Oregon trip, the team had been feverishly practicing their assembly in after classes and on weekends.

Steel Bridge Sponsorship Director, Melissa Luo described the competition process before the team left for Oregon:

“The team constructs under the time limit across an imaginary river and transportation zone, so we actually have to run, bring members, and construct. It’s a really fun experience for all of us!

One of the categories is actually construction efficiency, so it’s [the] number of builders [multiplied] by your time – so if you have 3 people building in 10 minutes that better than 4 people building in 9 minutes. This year we’re trying out three people and we’re expecting to build it in under 10 minutes.”

Check out the 2017 timelapse construction video (actual time: 8 minutes and 30 seconds): 

Judges inspect every inch and bolt of the completed bridge, and measure the amount of deflection there is after a total load of 2500 lbs is placed on it.  Where the load is placed is decided by a random throw of a die, forcing teams to design for six possible cases. Any small infraction of the contest rules results in penalized points. In Klamath Falls, the UBC Steel Bridge Team’s final 3rd place ranking was determined by a combination of their other scores. They received the following category placements:

  • 1st in Construction Economy
  • 3rd in Display
  • 3rd in Lightness
  • 2nd for their Technical Paper/Presentation

As one of the top three teams, they are able to progress to the ASCE Nationals, which will be held in Champaign, Illinois.  

The team will also compete in the Canadian National Steel Bridge Competition (CNSBC) in May, travelling to the University of Waterloo to compete against Canadian post-secondary teams. Placing 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017, UBC Steel Bridge has historically done well in the Canadian competition, but will again have to face the reigning champions for the last two years, Montreal’s École de Technologie Supérieure as well as the other Canadian teams.

UBC Concrete Canoe also went to Klamath Falls to compete at the ASCE Pacific Northwest Conference. They placed 4th overall, and received 1st place for Design Paper, and 3rd place for Final Product.

Find out more about UBC Steel Bridge and follow their competition progress by visiting them on their website or on Facebook.