April 5, 2019

NDSU Steel Bridge Team to compete for 7th national title


The NDSU Steel Bridge Team will get a chance to add to an already record title total when the squad competes in the AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition National Finals May 31-June 1 at Southern Illinois University.

The team of engineering students placed first at the regional competition held at South Dakota State University March 22-23. NDSU has won the national championship six times – 1995, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

“We have a core team of very dedicated students who are willing to help out in whatever way they can,” said Max Schumacher, a civil engineering major. “The biggest thing is trying to utilize everyone's individual skills in ways that best help the team.”

The NDSU team is co-captained by Schumacher and Jake Roepke and includes Matt Oen, Austin Pauly, Brandon Kamphake, Bradon Lijenquist, Andrew Smith, Bryant Briard, Ryan Swanberg, Samantha Baker, Macy Merkel, Rachel Vogl, Nick Naseth, Alex Groff, Sam Boulton, Joseph Rosenquist, Sam Schoenecker and Eric Wonchoba.

Eight teams competed in this year’s regionals. They were challenged to design and build a 22-foot steel bridge that can support 2,500 pounds without bending more than a few inches. Teams are judged on construction technique, construction time, lightness, stiffness, economy and structural efficiency. NDSU placed first in five of the six categories.

“I learned many lessons over the past couple years that factored into the design of this year's bridge,” Schumacher said. “For example, I built on relationships with fabricators and suppliers from last year's bridge to develop and source more intricate connections and supplies this year. These expanded relationships allowed us to achieve a more efficient bridge design.”

The NDSU team spent several months working on their bridge. Students put in long hours, but gained crucial skills for their future careers.

“The project management aspects, such as communicating with suppliers, maintaining a schedule, and working closely with a team, will directly translate to the work I plan on doing upon graduation,” Schumacher said.

The steel bridge-building competition began in 1992 at Michigan State University and grew quickly in popularity and participation. Bridge dimensions, construction rules and the cost weighting of the various factors change from year to year.

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