University of Florida Wins 2023 Student Steel Bridge Competition

June 7, 2023

An earlier version of this release incorrectly stated that the University of Florida has now won two Student Steel Bridge Competitions in a row. The team has, in fact, won the last three--and is the first team in Competition history to do so!


CHICAGO - For the third consecutive year, student engineers from the University of Florida took first place in the Student Steel Bridge Competition. The team also became the first in the competition's history to win three years in a row.

This year, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) challenged students across North America to design, analyze, fabricate, and construct a conceptual scaled steel bridge to serve as a hypothetical crossing in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

The conceptual bridge would allow users to access trails on both sides of Sweetwater River and also provide better access for park service vehicles. It would be able to support the weight of pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians as well as maintenance and park vehicles. This is a wildlife refuge, so engineers would have to respect the existing habitat--no construction activity could take place within the river.

Students rose to the challenge and put their designs to the test at 20 regional competitions at ASCE Student Symposia this spring. Last weekend, the 43 top teams met at the University of California, San Diego, for the 2023 Student Steel Bridge Competition National Finals.

"It brings me such joy to see how the Student Steel Bridge Competition has such a positive impact on the students,” said Kristi Sattler, SE, PE, PhD, AISC’s university education manager. “This weekend was full of smiling students who were passionate about their bridges, enthusiastic volunteer judges who ensured a fair and safe competition, and sponsors who got to see first-hand the fruits of their financial contributions."

In addition to winning the overall prize (and $5,000 in scholarship money), the University of Florida had the fastest build, took first place for economy, and came in third for efficiency. They also took home the Frank J. Hatfield Ingenuity Award, which goes to the team that shows the most engineering ingenuity in the design and/or construction of their bridge based on the requirements of the competition rules.

"It's always a year of hard work and dedication, and it's exhausting--a lot of nights and days, so it feels good to finally perform on the national level and compete for one of the top spots,” said Brock Sullivan, the University of Florida’s steel bridge project manager.

Youngstown State University came in second overall, winning first place for aesthetics and third for economy--as well as $3,000 in scholarship funds.

The University at Buffalo won third place overall, which comes with $2,000 in scholarship support. Their build time of 5.85 minutes was a close second to the University of Florida’s winning time of 5.80 minutes, and they also took second in the economy category.

Competition organizers also unveiled the location of the 2024 Student Steel Bridge Competition National Finals: Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., May 31 to June 1, 2024.

The final results of the 2023 competition are as follows:

University of Florida
Youngstown State University
University at Buffalo

University of Florida (5.80 minutes)
University at Buffalo (5.85 minutes)
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (8.82 minutes)

University of Texas at Arlington
Virginia Tech
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Youngstown State University
Virginia Tech
University of Alaska Anchorage

University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of Wisconsin--Platteville

Cost Estimate
University of Alaska Fairbanks
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
University of Arizona

University of Florida
University at Buffalo
Youngstown State University

University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of Florida

Team Engagement Award
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Robert E. Shaw Jr. Spirit of the Competition Award
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Frank J. Hatfield Ingenuity Award
University of Florida

John M. Yadlosky Most Improved Team Award
Harding University

Video awards:
First place: Brigham Young University
Second place: Iowa State University
Third place: University of British Columbia


For more information contact:

Dani Friedland
Director of Marketing Communications

American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-partisan, 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, market development, and advocacy. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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