Steel Bridge

pgBanner Steel Bridge

The steel bridge team recently traveled to Seattle, WA to compete in the NSSBC 2013 hosted by the University of Washington. The team performed well, improving their total “price” of the bridge from $4.5 million at the regional conference to $4.3 million at the national conference. The South Dakota Mines team was also recognized as one of two schools out of 49 to have notable team spirit -- this year’s theme of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road led to Mario and Luigi making an appearance at the national competition.

Each year, the South Dakota Mines Steel Bridge Team designs, fabricates, and tests a steel bridge to compete in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) jointly hosted National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC). The South Dakota Mines Steel Bridge Team first competes at the ASCE Rocky Mountain Regional Conference, which is composed of 13 universities from 5 states (Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming) and is held every spring. The team has placed in the top three at the regional conference the last 6 of 7 years, qualifying them to compete at the national level and placing them as a perennial contender at the national level. The NSSBC competition draws more than 220 competing universities from around North America with approximately 20% of the competing teams qualifying for the national competition.

What is the Steel Bridge? The Steel Bridge competition is intended to give students a practical problem-solving scenario involving teamwork and application of classroom theory in addition to a real-world design situation. This competition requires students to design, fabricate, and construct a steel bridge that is approximately 20 feet in length, 3.5 feet in width, and able to withstand a load of 2500 pounds. Scoring is based on the time it takes to assemble the bridge at competition and the overall efficiency of the bridge (a combination of weight and deflection). The competition simulates a bridge being constructed over a river or other obstacle. The boundaries on the river are marked, resulting in time penalties for team members crossing into the river. This competition helps students gain valuable hands-on experience by adhering to strictly to rules and specifications. It also allows them to compete regionally, and those regional winners move on to the national competition, which offers students an even greater chance to grow in their professional careers.

These competitions provide excellent exposure for the team’s sponsors. While at competition, the team wears a team T-shirt sporting the sponsor’s logos. After the competitions, an advertisement is sent to the Rapid City Journal thanking sponsors for their support and letting the community know the results of the competition against the nation’s top engineering schools.

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