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U Hosts Steel Bridge Contest

May 23, 2006 – Almost 500 students from 45 colleges and universities will build strong, lightweight, scale-model bridges as the University of Utah hosts the 15th Annual National Student Steel Bridge Competition on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27.

The event will take place in Exhibit Halls 2 and 3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City.

The public and news media are invited to watch the event. There is no admission charge.

The assembled, 20-foot-long bridges will be on display from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Then they will be disassembled that night, and re-assembled during the competition, which runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

More than 400 universities with civil engineering programs participated in regional competitions to qualify for the national contest, which is drawing students from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“It’s an opportunity for them to carry out a civil engineering task from inception to construction,” says Pedro Romero, the competition”s faculty advisor and an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Utah. “They learn teamwork, project scheduling, design, construction – all skills they will need when they join the engineering profession.”

Teams from the University of Utah and Utah State University are among those competing in the national contest, which is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction.

To participate, students must design and construct a scale-model steel bridge approximately 20 feet long and 4 feet wide following instructions that specify the bridge height, span length between supports, and the size of each piece used to make the bridge.

During Saturday’s competition, teams of five students will be timed while they assemble their bridges. Once assembled, each bridge is loaded with steel weights totaling 2,500 pounds, and judges measure how much the bridge deforms.

Bridges score more points the faster they are assembled, the lighter their weight and the less they deform under the 2,500-pound load. The bridge with the most points wins.

Any bridge that collapses during loading is disqualified.

(News media note: Five bridges will be assembled simultaneously, then load-tested, followed by another five bridges, and so on. That means construction and loading will occur through most of the day Saturday.)

For more information, visit the competition website at