Reposted from the Gainesville Sun
A team of Gators have added yet another national title to the University of Florida’s trophy haul. The school is now the home of the best steel bridge builders in the country, maybe even the world.
The group of civil engineering students who make up the UF steel bridge team took first place in the National Student Steel Bridge Competition against 208 teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico and China.
The competition was hosted by the University of Missouri in Kansas City and held on May 22 and 23.
Team leader Justin Rayl, 22, said UF was the only university to win two of the six categories. It won in lightness and efficiency, which is factored into the overall score.
The lighter the bridge weighs, the less money it costs, the UF civil engineering senior said. The 19½ foot-long bridge weighed the lightest at 85 pounds; the second lightest bridge was 95 pounds. The bridge cost about $4,000 to build.
The team spent their fall semester designing the bridge on computers and started to build the bridge in January. Fabrication, which is when an item is made from raw material, started in March.
The bridge was built in sections, with each piece about 3 feet, Rayl said.
The teams had about seven weeks of practice and re-built the bridge more than 100 times. Their quickest time was 7 minutes and 29 seconds, but their competition time was 8 minutes and 53 seconds.
Rayl said he and the team members were nervous and took their time to check every bolt and screw.
“The nerves had already passed, and we were all focused on getting the job done,” he said.
When the scores were released, everyone felt confident, he said.
“This hope came over the entire team once we won the first category,” he said. “I wanted to cry I was so happy.”
Team leader Juliana Rochester, 22, said the last time UF won first place was in 1997.
“It’s a great accomplishment for us,” the UF civil engineering senior said.
Rochester has been on the team for three years. She said the teams used a design program called Visual Analysis, which most civil engineering students use in class.
“You don’t get to see your work implemented, which is why I like this competition,” she said.