As many Armour College of Engineering students were studying for finals, the student chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Steel Bridge team had the added task of preparing for the ASCE National Student Bridge Competition, held at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah from May 27-28.
Illinois Tech’s ASCE steel bridge team, comprised of engineering students from Armour, earned a spot at the ASCE National Student Bridge Competition when they placed second at the 2016 ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference last spring. At the national competition the team had to contend with fifty of the best teams from the United States, Canada, China, and Mexico.
The focused team placed third in overall construction speed at the national competition due to their dedication and relentless practice. With no penalties, the team constructed their entire bridge in a blazing fast six minutes and eight seconds.
A tabletop bridge design was selected by the team because they would be able to quickly and efficiently build the design at the competition. It consists of two chords strung between the four legs. There is an X webbing between the chords to combat vertical deflection and diagonal bracing to combat horizontal deflection. With only 50 standardized members to assemble and custom designed quick connections the team’s bridge was built for speed.
Workspaces including shops in Alumni Memorial Hall, the John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center, and the Idea Shop became the team’s second home. The team would regularly spend several hours each day refining their design, making adjustments to the assembly process, or practicing construction.
Students utilized concepts learned in the civil engineering curriculum to complete the project. “This is a small scale real-world project which challenges your team in different aspects which include spatial constraints, material properties, strength, serviceability, fabrication, erection processes, safety, aesthetics, project management, and cost,” according to co-captain Efrain Gallegos. The skills learned go beyond the typical classroom he adds, “We also learned how to work as a team and to assign responsibilities to each member in order to be more efficient and productive.”
The team included co-captains Efrain Gallegos (CE, 5th year), Nene Houssa Sanankoua (CE, 4th year), Gustavo Gonzalez (CE, 4th year), and Tristan Penepacker (CE, 3rd year) and team members Michael Desch (ARCE, 3rd year) and Micki Chung (CE, third year). Armour faculty and staff mentors were Mehdi Modares, Associate Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering, and Stan Johnson, Shop Technician. The team’s professional mentor was Armour alumnus Jorge Cobo (M.S. STE ‘08), currently a structural engineer at ARUP.