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National Student Steel Bridge Competition spotlights future structural engineers

June 14, 2010 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – A team of six civil engineering students from North Dakota State University won the 19th annual ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition, held May 28-29 at Purdue University. Second place went to the team from the University of California, Berkeley, while Lakehead University, Ontario, Canada, took third overall.

The celebrated event featured 46 teams and hundreds of students from universities around the U.S. and Canada. Each team displayed their skills in steel design, steel fabrication, and teamwork in building a 21-ft-long scaled model of a proposed bridge that met particular hypothetical requirements given to all teams. This year’s specification stated the bridge was a means of providing access to a new oil field located in the Arctic Tundra, and had to span a river and adjacent floodway.

This year marks the sixth time that North Dakota State University has won the national championship since the first competition in 1992, and it’s the only university to have had student teams win the national title more than once.

“The success of our teams, year after year, is attributed to the dedication, hard work, and academic preparation of the team members,” said Magdy Abdelrahman, North Dakota State University’s student bridge team advisor and assistant professor in the Civil Engineering Department. “The students have always been able to apply classroom lessons to real world practice.”

The bridges were judged in six key categories related to steel design and construction: construction speed, stiffness, lightness, economy, display, and efficiency. The teams with the best combined rankings across all six categories earn overall award recognition.

“Our team won this year’s competition because the students were focused on improving the performance of the regional competition of this year,” commented Abdelrahman. The team was able to optimize on all elements, making sure they developed the most efficient design and could build the bridge in the minimum possible time.”

Throughout the year, student teams work for months perfecting the design, fabrication, and construction of each bridge. To reach the national event, each team must place among the top schools in one of 18 regional competitions held across the country each year.

“It’s exciting to watch the next generation of structural engineers come together and work with such passion and enthusiasm,” said Nancy Gavlin, AISC director of education. “They develop great engineering ability through participating in this competition, and I applaud each team for their tremendous commitment.”

The top three winners in each category were:

Construction Speed

  • North Dakota State University
  • Lakehead University
  • University of California, Davis


  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Lafayette College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • University of California, Davis


  • North Dakota State University
  • Lakehead University
  • University of California, Davis


  • California State University, Northridge
  • Lakehead University
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa


  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • North Dakota State University

The National Student Steel Bridge Competition is sponsored by AISC in cooperation with the ASCE and is co-sponsored by the American Iron and Steel Institute, the National Steel Bridge Alliance, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, Nucor Corporation, Bentley Systems, Inc., Steel Structures Education Foundation, CISC-ICCA, and Nelson Stud Welding.

The 2011 National Student Steel Bridge Competition will be held May 20-21 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. For more information on the competition, please visit www.aisc.org/steelbridge.


For more information contact:

Tasha O'Berski
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]


American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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