Steel bridge team builds momentum before competition

After months of designing, cutting and welding, WMU’s steel bridge team is getting ready for the regional steel bridge competition April 6-8 at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich. The steel bridge team designs, fabricates and constructs a scale-model bridge based on criteria established by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction. The competition involves building a 1:10 scale bridge that must be 20.5 long, have a 1.5-foot clearance, be able to hold 2,500 pounds and be assembled quickly from pieces no longer than 3 feet. 

The team will compete against at least seven steel bridge teams from universities from Michigan and Ohio.

Nathanael Gommesen, steel bridge team captain and civil engineering major, said the relatively young team is building momentum as it gets closer to the contest. “We had several freshmen and transfer students join this year, which is exciting for the future of the team,” he said. “We’ve been putting in some long hours in the student projects lab to finish fabrication on time.”

He said it is challenging to build a bridge that meets the requirements, is efficient to build and is aesthetically pleasing. “We have been practicing to perfect the assembly process. It will be exciting to see our design come to life on competition day.”

The categories of competition are display, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, construction economy and structural efficiency. Bridges also are rated on overall performance.

WMU will host the North Central Region’s steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions in 2018.