Lakehead University Civil Engineers Fare Well

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THUNDER BAY – Lakehead University’s Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team fared well in all seven scoring categories at the 19th Annual AISC/ASCE US National Student Steel Bridge Competition, hosted by Indiana’s Purdue University at the end of May.  Among the 46 universities that competed, Lakehead’s team won awards in four categories, placing second in Construction Speed, Construction Economy, and Display, and taking third place overall.

Prior to the competition date, all qualifying teams are faced with fabricating a 21-foot-long scaled model of a proposed bridge that satisfies the 40-page hypothetical specification given to all teams. This year’s specification stated the bridge was a means of providing access to a new oil field located in the Arctic Tundra, and had to span a river and adjacent floodway.  The Lakehead team’s faculty advisors, Drs. Tony Gillies and Timo Tikka, note the second place Display ranking is particularly satisfying.  “This indicates that Lakehead’s team produced what, through the eyes of the judges, was one of the most elegant solutions to the design statement,” says Dr. Gillies.
“Although Lakehead’s teams are veterans of the competition, we still feel a nervous thrill when spectators watch our students assemble their bridge as quickly as possible,” explains Dr. Tikka, adding that nerves also come into play after the bridges are assembled and are loaded with 100 lengths of angle iron, each weighing 25 lbs, in order to simulate a loaded truck crossing the bridge.  With a total applied load of 2500 lbs, which equals more than ten times the weight of the bridge, the strength and deflection (or stiffness in lay terms) of the bridges are tested.  All teams’ bridges are then unloaded and weighed to determine which weighs the least, and then scores are converted into an equivalent dollar amount.  The bridge with the lowest cost wins the competition.
“Team members are grateful to the numerous sponsors whose support made it possible for us to participate in this year’s national event,” adds Dr. Gillies.  “It’s a wonderful feeling to know we continue to do our sponsors proud.”  Lakehead is the only Canadian team to place in the top five overall since the inception of the competition.
A new team of students hopes to maintain Lakehead’s tradition of excellent performance, and will work to qualify for the next national competition, to be hosted by Texas A&M University in May 2011.

Lakehead University’s Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team fared well in all seven scoring categories at the 19th Annual AISC/ASCE US National Student Steel Bridge Competition, hosted by Indiana’s Purdue University at the end of May.  Among the 46 universities that competed, Lakehead’s team won awards in four categories, placing second in Construction Speed, Construction Economy, and Display, and taking third place overall.

Prior to the competition date, all qualifying teams are faced with fabricating a 21-foot-long scaled model of a proposed bridge that satisfies the 40-page hypothetical specification given to all teams. This year’s specification stated the bridge was a means of providing access to a new oil field located in the Arctic Tundra, and had to span a river and adjacent floodway.  The Lakehead team’s faculty advisors, Drs. Tony Gillies and Timo Tikka, note the second place Display ranking is particularly satisfying.  “This indicates that Lakehead’s team produced what, through the eyes of the judges, was one of the most elegant solutions to the design statement,” says Dr. Gillies.

“Although Lakehead’s teams are veterans of the competition, we still feel a nervous thrill when spectators watch our students assemble their bridge as quickly as possible,” explains Dr. Tikka, adding that nerves also come into play after the bridges are assembled and are loaded with 100 lengths of angle iron, each weighing 25 lbs, in order to simulate a loaded truck crossing the bridge.  With a total applied load of 2500 lbs, which equals more than ten times the weight of the bridge, the strength and deflection (or stiffness in lay terms) of the bridges are tested.  All teams’ bridges are then unloaded and weighed to determine which weighs the least, and then scores are converted into an equivalent dollar amount.  The bridge with the lowest cost wins the competition.

“Team members are grateful to the numerous sponsors whose support made it possible for us to participate in this year’s national event,” adds Dr. Gillies.  “It’s a wonderful feeling to know we continue to do our sponsors proud.”  Lakehead is the only Canadian team to place in the top five overall since the inception of the competition.

A new team of students hopes to maintain Lakehead’s tradition of excellent performance, and will work to qualify for the next national competition, to be hosted by Texas A&M University in May 2011.

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