(June 21, 2018) — A team of 12 UTSA civil engineering students competed at the 2018 National Student Steel Bridge Competition recently after winning top honors at the 2018 Texas-Mexico Region Student Steel Bridge Competition in April. In addition to winning the competition’s first ever Frank J. Hatfield Ingenuity Award for the unique design of their bridge, which came with a $1,000 prize, the students placed fourth in construction speed and 20th overall out of 42 competing teams from across the nation.
This was the fifth time out of the last six years that a UTSA team competed at the National Student Steel Bridge Competition. This year’s team included Matthew Salz, Ahmad Al Heety, Arantza Arriata, Evan Batton, Paul Dart, Charles Garcia, Philip Gutierrez, Ana Laura Lopez, Mason Richardson, Diego Valdez, Cristopher Velasquez and Melissa Villaseñor.
Participation in the UTSA Steel Bridge Team teaches students structural engineering problem solving, practical machine shop skills and teamwork with other engineers. After preparing for eight months, the team competed against the best engineering schools in the region.
“Going to the National Steel Competition is a great reward for the students,” said Manuel Diaz, chair of the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “They put in countless hours of preparation for the competition, sacrificing evening and weekends.”
The inter-collegiate competition is an exciting visual display of students’ structural design and analysis skills at work. Teams are challenged to design, fabricate and construct their own one-tenth-scale steel bridge in the shortest time and under specific building constraints that reflect real-life structural specifications and construction regulations.
The Student Steel Bridge Competition also increases awareness of real-world engineering issues such as spatial constraints, material properties, strength, serviceability, fabrication and erection processes, safety, esthetics and cost.
ASCE-UTSA has been an active participant in the steel bridge competition since 1989. In the many years UTSA has participated, students have brought home numerous first place regional trophies for overall performance and many category awards.
The 2018 National Student Steel Bridge Competition was hosted by American Institute of Steel Construction and American Society of Civil Engineers.