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Student Steel Bridge Competition spotlights future structural engineers

May 26, 2011 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – A team of five civil engineering students from Lakehead University won the 20th annual ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition, held May 20-21 at Texas A&M University. Second place went to the team from Michigan Technological University, and SUNY College of Technology at Canton took third overall.

The celebrated event featured 48 teams and hundreds of students from universities throughout North America. Each team displayed their skills in steel design, steel fabrication, and teamwork in building scaled designed and fabricated bridges in the shortest time and under specific building constraints. This year’s scenario challenged the teams to construct a bridge over a scenic river and provide clearance for recreational boating and passageways for utilities.

To see a video of the Lakehead University team performing its award-winning assembly, go to YouTube, here.

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.

“I think ultimately the efficiency award, next to being first place [overall], was probably the biggest one for us,” said Dave Enns, a Lakehead University 2011 NSSBC team member. “As a structural engineer you want to have a very light but also a very effective bridge.”

Dr. Antony Gillies, Lakehead University faculty advisor for the 2011 NSSBC team, commented on how the national competition provides students with real world experience: “Project issues our team faced during competition are a prime example of showing up on a job site and site conditions aren’t exactly what you anticipated, and you have to make corrections on the fly.”

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. This year, 201 teams from around the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China participated in the regional competitions.

“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. “This year’s bridge posed difficult challenges that the students faced with ingenuity and professionalism.”

The top three winners in each category were:

Construction Speed

  • Lakehead University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • SUNY College of Technology at Canton


  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Arkansas State University
  • SUNY College of Technology at Canton


  • Lakehead University
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Georgia Institute of Technology


  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Lakehead University
  • Michigan Technological University


  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • California State University, Long Beach


  • Lakehead University
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Michigan Technological University

The National Student Steel Bridge Competition is sponsored by AISC in cooperation with the ASCE and is co-sponsored by Bentley Systems, DSS Solidworks Corp., Nucor, the National Steel Bridge Alliance, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, and the Steel Structures Education Foundation.

The 2012 National Student Steel Bridge Competition finals will be held May 25-26 at Clemson University. For more information on the competition, please visit www.aisc.org/steelbridge or www.nssbc.info.

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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