If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another………. Or, Never Let Your Customer Touch Your Bridge Until They Sign For It!

At the ASCE regional conference this weekend the S&T Steel Bridge Team started in a real hole when they lost a critical component.
This year’s allowable lateral deflection was only 1/2 inch, so what did the missing part do? Yep. Controlled lateral deflection.
Plan B was to remove a less-important part and make it fit, since once judging starts you can’t add “replacements” to the structure. That meant the bridge was “one brick shy of a full load” in the competition. Team leader Zach Evans said “since we were second to last in the competition order and had to wait for our eventual demise, we watched the other teams compete. We got more optimistic as all but two teams failed deflection, so if our design held, we’d make it to the national finals after all.”
“Our actual construction time went as practiced, but during scoring one official grabbed a steel bracing rod that helped prevent the bridge from moving laterally (you see a pattern here?). So, when the judge put his weight on the piece under tension it snapped, leaving us without two critical pieces. Needless to say we ended up as one of seven teams that couldn’t pass the lateral deflection test.”
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“Out of 12 teams we came in 6th, with the difference between third and seventh being very close. The final differential was our construction speed.”
“Next year we’ll triple-check our parts before we go to competition.”