Category Archives: Steel Bridge

Lessons from the 2014 Steel Bridge Conference

This past weekend, the Ohio Valley Student Conference took place. UofL attended, competing with their 2014 bridge design. Each year, ASCE and AISC write rules to introduce the students to unprecedented challenges. That was no less true this year!

At the competition, 8 out of 12 bridges either disqualified or failed during loading. That is not an usual thing! If nothing else, this proves the challenges of this year’s rules. Unfortunately, UofL was one of those teams; you can’t win every time.

This year’s bridge had a dimensional disqualification which was unforeseen, as it only occurred when fully constructed. This is a great lesson for all engineers: it might work out on paper, but in real practice it can be a totally different story.

On a happier note, the UofL team had one of the quickest bridge construction times, and that is an impressive feat! The team has learned a lot from this year’s competition and is excited to bounce back next year!


Fabrication time!

The Steel Bridge Team at U of L is excited to be in the fabrication phase of the project. The ECTC workshop is working hard to deliver a quality bridge, and the team is thrilled to see their design come to life.

In the coming weeks, the team will be perfecting the bridge’s construction time. There will soon be tryouts for team builders, who will represent our school at the regional (and hopefully national) level! If you are interested in being a builder, email us at

Submitting the Final Bridge Design

This week, the U of L Steel Bridge team submitted their final bridge design to the fabrication students at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College! The team is very excited to move forward; they are now working on completing the shop drawings for the folks at ECTC. Additionally, they plan to work with the CAD department at ECTC, so that all students involved can truly benefit from this collaborative process. Many thanks to the ECTC faculty for continuing to make this happen! The Steel Bridge Team looks forward to seeing their project come to life!

Completing the Design Phase

The Steel Bridge Design Team is completing their design, which is within the goal of completing the design this semester! This is a great step forward for the new team. The next step will be to order materials; namely, steel!

Like last year, the team will be working with welders and fabricators from the Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. The faculty and students from Elizabethtown will have ongoing communications with the UofL students, and it will work very much like a real engineering project. The groups will exchange Autocad drawings, mark up the drawings, communicate about improvements and any issues in fabrication, and much more. This provides a great experience for both groups, especially the engineering students from UofL, because they’re getting real life project management experience!

Many thanks to the guys at E-town for helping the team out again this year. Stay tuned for more updates on bridge fabrication, as the team watches their new project come to life!

Perfecting the 2014 Steel Bridge Design

The Steel Bridge Team is hard at work on the 2014 bridge design. Each year, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) present new and unique challenges in the competition rules. This year, there is a heavy constraint on the depth of the bridge. As you can imagine, this rule makes it difficult to design a stiff bridge.

With this new challenge in mind, the steel bridge team is working hard to find creative ways to make a strong, efficient bridge. Connections must be very snug, without taking forever to fasten; the final product should be practical to put together. All of these details must be considered at the very beginning design stages.

The design is moving along well, and the team is very excited to begin fabrication in January.

Steel Bridge Team Beginning Design Phase

The Steel Bridge Team has begun its design phase, training new members on the software necessary to design a competitive bridge. AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction), the major sponsor of the Steel Bridge Competition, provides each team with STAAD software. This software assists the team in designing complicated structures.

Once the new members are proficient with STAAD, each member will be proposing a bridge design of their own. From there, the team will choose which bridge appears to be the stiffest, most efficient structure. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the team, as this design could go in many different directions!

If any student is interested in joining the team, Steel Bridge meetings are held Wednesdays at 6:00PM in the ASCE Office (W.S. Speed LL004) and the team can be contacted at

2013 Steel Bridge Team

2013 Team (L to R): Kevin McKeel, Jon-Peter Lee, Brooks Benton, Stephanie Coffey, Matt Rhoads, Marcella Kennedy, Ian vanLierop, and Sam Hornback

The U of L Steel Bridge Team completed its best year in June! The team swept the Ohio Valley Student Conference, placing 1st overall for the first time in school history. Additionally, U of L  placed first in four out of six categories. These successes qualified the team for the national competition, for the second consecutive year.

At the National Student Steel Bridge Competition, the U of L team faced prestigious schools such as UC Berkeley and MIT head on. This being the second year that the team made it to nationals, the students knew to expect some heavy competition. They worked on improving the qualities that they last year saw in winning bridges: lightness, stiffness, and innovative (and minimal) member connections.

Fully loaded bridge at 2013 regionals

Fully loaded bridge at 2013 regionals.

Comparing the 2013 bridge with the 2012 bridge, the U of L team indeed made many improvements. The 2013 bridge was 61% lighter and had a 64% reduction in the number of bolts. These numbers brought confidence to the team, and with good reason: U of L placed 32nd out of 49 international teams. This is a 12 place improvement over last year’s national results.

The 2014 rules were recently released, and the 2014 team is currently in the process of recruiting. The U of L Steel Bridge team plans to come back strong this year, and complete the bridge design by the end of December.