Lace vs. The Leviathans

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) hosts regional conferences which include educational design events such as the concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions. DSC_8637a.jpg In the bridge contest, scale bridges are judged on stiffness, weight, construction economy and efficiency, among other points. Each bridge component must fit inside a 4′ long box before it can be used as part of the assembly event, teams who need fewer “employees” to assemble their bridges gain a scoring edge, and errors or rules violations earn penalty points. Judges gave the Miners a lot of comments about “being out of the box”, and those were not complaints.
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S&T’s 2010 ironworkers developed a striking bridge that, compared to the more common beam construction, looked more like a delicate lacework pattern; nothing at all like the competition. ASCE officials, OU engineering faculty, and other teams alike complimented the Miners on “great imagination”, “very creative”, and “thinking out of the box”.
The Miners’ bridge weighed in at just 162 lbs, less than half the weight of several other contest structures, and the Rolla crew’s construction time or 19.44 included penalties and a time-and-a-half repair “charge”. The design cleared the lateral deflection test by a slender margin, but was disqualified when it deflected too much before the last of the 2,500 lbs of steel was loaded. DSC_8377.jpg
Stuff happens at this event. One team took more than an hour to build their bridge, and another crew was stunned when, using rubber mallets to “urge” components into place, the other end of their bridge simply snapped and dropped to the floor. The looks on their faces said “THIS is going to be hard to explain!”
The overall attitude of S&T’s bridge and canoe teams helped them bring home the traveling “Spirit of Competition” trophy for the first time. The Miners were grinning ear-to-ear when this was announced, because it is based on the judges’ overall impression of the event, and takes into consideration sportsmanship, professionalism, teamwork, leadership, and the effort S&T students put into their designs.