For the second straight year, a team from West Virginia University captured first place in the steel bridge competition at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Virginias Conference, held at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia, March 30–April 1.
Fifteen WVU engineering students attended the competition with the 260-pound steel bridge they designed and built over the past eight months.
“This year we made many modifications to reduce the weight and assembly time of our bridge during the competition,” said Lee Shields, a civil engineering major from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and the steel bridge team co-captain. “We changed the leg design of the bridge and reduced the amount of bolts we had to fasten from more than 70 last year to just 28, which drastically increased our assembly speed.”
Following a strict set of standards and guidelines set by ASCE, the bridge design had to be able to withstand 2,500 pounds of weight. The pieces of the bridge were all three feet or smaller in length and constructed with slide connections for increased speed. The team was able to assemble their bridge in just 12.5 minutes, 16 minutes faster than the second-place team.
“We are extremely proud to have won the regional conference,” said Shields. “We spent four months just refining our design before we began assembling our bridge and every single member of the team played a key role in our success. We could not be more excited to see our hard work and dedication rewarded.”
Joining Shields on the team are civil engineering majors Andrew Pacifico (Wilmington, North Carolina), Alex Gennuso (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Robby Tennant (Blacksville), Mike DeYoung (Dowington, Pennsylvania), Michael Macioce (Elizabeth, Pennsylvania), Tyler Rockhill (South Hampton, New Jersey), Jonathan Malone (Annapolis, Maryland), Justin Smith (Petersburg), William Barker (Parkersburg), Derrick Merwin (Frederick, Maryland), Daniel Boyles (Morgantown), Katelyn Kosar (Frederick, Maryland), Nicole Hegele (Odd) and Zack Bartley (Martinsburg).
The teams’ first-place finish will move them onto the national competition at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Oregon, scheduled for May 26-27. More than 50 teams from across the nation are expected to attend.
“Our back-to-back wins will motivate us more than ever as we prepare to head to the national competition,” said Shields. “Our goal this year is to place among the top 20 teams and keep working our way up the national scale.”
Over the next month, the team will continue making improvements to their bridge and begin fundraising for the trip.
“We are hopeful that through our fundraising efforts we will be able to send every member of our team to Oregon,” said Shields. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we cannot wait to represent WVU on a national scale.”
In addition to winning the steel bridge competition, WVU placed first in the transportation competition; second in the hardy cross presentation, sand castle building and concrete bowling competition; and fourth in the concrete canoe competition.
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