Eight students from UCF’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) competed in against 47 teams from the U.S. and Canada May 23 and 24 in Las Vegas. They took first place in the bridge stiffness category, fourth place in efficiency, and placed tenth overall in the competition, ahead of MIT, Texas A&M and the University of Wisconsin. “I’m so proud of them,” said Manoj Chopra, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering and faculty advisor for the team.
Sponsored by ASCE and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), and hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the competition gave students design and construction planning experience and an opportunity to compete against some of the nation’s top engineering schools.
The national competition “broadens your networking and creates stronger ties with other engineering students,” said team member Javier Figueroa.
Teams were given nine months to create a functional and visually attractive 20-foot-long bridge as a replacement for a century-old highway bridge. Awards were given for stiffness, weight, construction speed, display, structural efficiency and economy.
UCF’s first-place win in the stiffness category was a bit fortunate, Chopra said. A dice roll determines where judges place weights on the bridge. Fortunately, the two weights totaling 2,500 lbs. were placed on the strongest parts of the UCF team’s bridge. That reduced the bridge’s overall aggregate deflection, or the total amount that it moved under the applied load.
Prior to the finals, UCF beat 25 schools winning first place at the southeast regional conference in Nashville in March. Even after the win, the team improved their design by making the bridge lighter. Leading up to the regional competition, the team put at least 40 hours a week into the planning and construction of the bridge. Team members spent about four months designing the bridge and five months of building and testing it.
Recruitment for next year’s team begins in fall and they are all looking forward to competing again. “We know what we need to bring to the table now,” said team member Jonathan Defaria.
Rafiqul Chowdhury, ASCE Student Chapter President