Engineering students win 3rd national title
North Dakota State University engineering students are starting to make a name for themselves building bridges. A six-man team from NDSU took first place in the 13th annual National Student Steel Bridge Competition, sponsored by the American Inst...
North Dakota State University engineering students are starting to make a name for themselves building bridges.
A six-man team from NDSU took first place in the 13th annual National Student Steel Bridge Competition, sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction.
By beating out 43 colleges at the Colorado School of Mines, the NDSU team became the third team from the Fargo campus to win the competition since it began.
"No other school has won it more than once, so we've got sort of a legacy going on here," said Ken Kellogg, assistant professor of civil engineering and the team's faculty adviser.
Team members received the contest rules last August and spent "thousands" of hours designing and building the 105-pound bridge, said team captain Mitch Okeson, a graduate student from Detroit Lakes, Minn.
The rules required them to use structural steel, with no piece longer than 3½ feet or wider than 6 inches.
"Our goal from the beginning was to have a bridge that was light and stiff and still be able to assemble it in a quick manner," Okeson said.
Their assembly time of 3 minutes, 20 seconds was good enough for fifth place at the competition. The team took sixth place in construction economy and first place in the other four categories: stiffness, lightness, structural efficiency and aesthetics.
"So we had the best-looking bridge there, too," Okeson said.
Students from the NDSU chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers also won the competition in 1995 and 2002.
This year's team included Okeson; seniors and twin brothers Jeremy and Jesse Freihammer, both of Baxter, Minn.; senior David Blommel of Willmar, Minn.; junior Brian Lintgen of St. Cloud, Minn.; and sophomore Nathan Hoffmann of Leeds, N.D.
Okeson, who was part of the 2002 team, said NDSU students bring a strong engineering education and an inner drive that gives them an edge at the competition.
"We really go the extra mile to make the bridge what it needs to be to be competitive," he said.
For their efforts last weekend in Golden, Colo., team members took home a trophy and will receive a cash award. Although the amount wasn't advertised as part of the competition, Okeson said the 2002 team received $3,500.
The money will go into the ASCE chapter's budget to pay for future bridge building competitions. This year's team paid $1,300 for the specially-made steel needed to create the 26-foot-long, two-span bridge that can safely carry 2,500 pounds.
Okeson said the competition not only forces students to utilize their engineering skills, but also teaches them about planning and time and money management.
"It's a really good contest. You get all sides of what the big bad world is like," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528