How Do You Get To The Steel Bridge Nationals?

Controlled chaos/practice in the High Bay, that’s how.
In just 30 hours or so S&T’s Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe teams will head to Lincoln, Nebraska for the Mid-Continent Student Conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
There will be seminars, networking, education, and a banquet (no, this is NOT the GSA in Vegas, thank you very much!), but the real draw is the student design competitions. Thursday’s highlight is the Steel Bridge competition, and that’s where the “high bay” reference comes in. Teams must assemble their structures in a timed event, and the highest-ranked teams qualify for the national event. S&T’s bridge team has been rehearsing their synchronized assembly procedures in the civil dept’s high bay laboratory nearly every night for the past week.
BridgeDSC_5652.jpgThey’ve cut down on penalties, trimmed their assembly time from 40 minutes down to 18, and their goal is just under a quarter hour. Other points come from weight, cost, design, aesthetics, and performance under load. Tonight’s the final practice event and then it’s time to pack up.
Friday and Saturday the focus changes to the stone boat events, the results of which may live in students’ memory for their entire lives, as did the Flintstones* of generations past. We’ll have more on that soon, but Julie Whitehead’s crew has built “Gold Rush“, a great-looking, mining-themed boat complete with a toy train, a replica mine ore car, and even a really sharp mock-up of a mine shaft opening to add a little panache to their presentation. Practice? Yup! Sunday morning they put in a few more hours of paddling practice as a final tune-up.
*Yes, the boats DO have something in common with Fred’s car. Heavy, yet (mostly) stylish. Tough to get moving and hard to handle in the turns. That’s what makes it challenging. And fun.
Did we mention that S&T is sending two student members of the American Concrete Institute to participate in the Concrete Bowling event? THAT’s gonna be interesting! Wonder who will volunteer to be the pin setters?