UAF Steel Bridge Team Places 2nd in Nationals
The UAF team won four awards: third place for aesthetics, lightness, and construction economy and second place overall at the national finals May 27 and 28.
UAF made its best showing in a quarter century at the American Institute of Steel Construction national championships.
The UAF squad placed second overall in the 2022 Student Steel Bridge Competition finals at Virginia Tech University. The school hasn’t placed as high since 1996, when UAF also finished second.
The annual engineering contest judged teams on a variety of criteria in their efforts to design and build a unique steel bridge.
Three student builders constructed UAF’s bridge in 5 minutes, 20 seconds. The team took third place in the categories of aesthetics, lightness, and construction economy, and those scores helped UAF claim second place overall in a field of thirty-eight teams. Only the defending champions from the University of Florida scored higher.
“We were just overjoyed,” says team captain Ben VanderHart. “We knew we had something special this year.”
Along with VanderHart, team members participating in the finals included Branden Hansen, Zach Miller, Lucas Gomes, Haylie Cortez, Jenna Hernandez, and Madelin Weeks. Wilhelm Muench, an instructor at UAF’s College of Engineering and Mines, was the team advisor.
UAF has advanced to the championship round in six of the last seven competitions. UAF is typically a top-ten finisher at nationals but hasn’t won the title since 1993.
VanderHart, a new graduate of UAF’s civil engineering program and the designer of this year’s entry, says, “Steel bridge has been the highlight of college. I’m sure I’ve spent more time on it than my classes.”
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