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CWRU Student Steel Bridge Team Competes from Campus

Case Western Reserve University’s Student Steel Bridge Team concluded two years of effort and competed from CWRU’s campus on March 30, 2021. The Student Steel Bridge Competition, hosted by the American Institute of Steel Construction, challenges students to design a model steel bridge to simulate a real-world design and construction process. Among many other specifications, the bridge must span approximately 20 feet and carry 2,500 pounds.  (full story)

After the spring 2020 competition was postponed by a year, CWRU’s Steel Bridge Team was able to finish the design and fabrication of their bridge throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Using machinery in think[box] and the Bingham Structures Lab, the students on the team completed their own fabrication, teaching members to cut, drill, grind, and weld steel. They improved on the bridge design from the previous competition, focusing on minimizing deflection under the 2,500 pound load and minimizing the time required to assemble the bridge, both of which are important scoring criteria for the competition.

While the team would typically travel to another university to compete, they competed locally from Nord Atrium with a livestream over Zoom for any audience members. With the assistance of several department faculty and staff, including Dr. Michael Pollino, Michael Butler, Dr. Christian Carloni, and Dr. Yue Li, the competition was carried out successfully. The five-person build team assembled the bridge in record time, at just under 14 minutes. Unfortunately, a connection between two members failed when the bridge was loaded to 2,300 pounds, so the team was unable to fully load the bridge. Despite the frustrating end, the team is excited to build on the foundation set in the past few years, learning from mistakes and continuing to improve.