Guest Blogger: Erika Hango

by Michael Mullaney on September 9, 2011

(Civil Engineering senior Erika Hango wrote this excellent post for The Approach – enjoy! It’s about an engineering competition in which she and several classmates competed earlier this year.)

The RPI Steel Bridge Team competed in the AISC-ASCE Student Steel Bridge Competition at the Upstate New York Regional Conference on April 29th in Montreal, Quebec.

The team of ten students, primarily civil engineering undergraduate students, designed the bridge during the fall semester adhering to strict competition guidelines. Design decisions focused on building a strong, yet efficient bridge that could be assembled quickly.

Constructability was a continuous topic of discussion throughout the year. During the spring semester, Stonebridge Iron & Steel in Gansevoort, NY fabricated the bridge. The team performed additional labor including drilling bolt holes for each connection, modifying the design for increased lateral stability, and painting the final product. Finally, after many hours of practice builds, the bridge was ready to make the trip to Montreal.

A few weeks before the competition, the team hosted a class of fourth grade students from the Doane Stuart School. The bridge was displayed as a hands-on prop and the students participated in a short presentation on civil engineering, bridge design, and the competition. A picture from this trip is below.

At the competition, four team members built the bridge in 18 minutes and 40 seconds, well under the 45 minutes allowed. A lateral load test of 75 lbs was performed, but the bridge deflected 1/16” more than permitted. As a result, RPI was disqualified. There was controversy over the way the measurement was taken. Four other teams were disqualified at this stage of the competition for similar reasons. Finally, a vertical load test was performed. The main span was loaded with 1800 lbs, and 700 lbs was placed on the cantilever. A cumulative deflection of 3/16″ over two locations, well under the allowable deflection, was measured! RPI placed third in the competition.

The team consisted of Tucker Allen, Craig Buechele, Erika Hango, Rina Hoshino, Matthew Michnewich, Sam Seifert, Paul Tegnazian, Stephan Tchorbajian, Brian Watts, and Andrew Yeskoo.