Texas A&M steel bridge team wins regionals, advances to nationals

The 2010 Texas A&M steel bridge teamThe Texas A&M steel bridge team will compete in the 2010 National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 28-29 at Purdue University.The Aggies earned the national bid by winning first place at the regional competition in January."It was really rewarding winning regionals this year with so many new members," said Jason Zidek, captain of Texas A&M's 2010 steel bridge team. "Many upperclassmen graduated last year, so our team had to learn a lot. It also gave us an opportunity to implement some new design and fabrication techniques."The Student Steel Bridge Competition gives civil engineering students hands-on experience with designing and building steel bridges. Student teams must assemble their miniature pre-designed and fabricated bridge in the shortest time and under specific building constraints. They are judged and awarded for six categories: Stiffness, lightness, construction, speed, display, efficiency, and economy."One benefit of being on the steel bridge team is being able to apply things learned in classes to actual applications. Being able to work in the lab after designing something teaches you to look at how things will turn out in the field, not just on paper," Zidek said.Participants must work hard to prepare for the competition, but Zidek said his team enjoys the challenge."Everyone on the team enjoys seeing our bridge successfully being put together and loaded at the competition. It's also fun to watch other teams compete and see how they approach the competition given the same set of rules."Texas A&M University is scheduled to host the 2011 National Student Steel Bridge Competition, and the A&M American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter is forming a committee and working hard to plan the event."We are excited to get the opportunity to bring many great civil engineering programs to our campus. Hosting nationals is a lot of work and we are glad to have the opportunity to show that Texas A&M and our ASCE chapter have what it takes to host a successful event," Zidek said.This will be the second time Texas A&M has hosted the national competition, previously held here in 2000.