College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa State Steel Bridge Team advances to nationals

Bridge profile_I-State
The ASCE Iowa State Steel Bridge five-person team built a 17-foot steel bridge, with about 3 feet of clearance, in 13 minutes.

Drills buzzed, feet shuffled, and bolt-filled plastic cups jingled as Midwest collegiate teams built their one eighth-scale steel bridges as fast as they could in Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State was among the best to do this as they placed second at the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)/American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Midwest Regional Steel Bridge Competition March 16. Lakehead University of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, won. Iowa State and Lakehead University advance to the ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition, held at the University of Washington in Seattle May 31-June 1.

North Dakota State University placed third, while University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of North Dakota, and University of Iowa placed fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Andrew Faust, civil engineering senior and president of the ASCE Iowa State Steel Bridge Team, says the team is excited to move on to nationals, and “it is well deserved for their hard work throughout the year.” Design work for the bridge began last fall for students. Then, upperclassmen taught younger students how to fabricate parts to fit contest guidelines. Students work together to fabricate the steel bridge.

While many civil engineering students contributed to the second place honor, the steel bridge construction crew competed: junior Corey Erickson (captain), senior Matt Huber, freshman Matt Manzer, junior Travis Pearl and junior Ben Worrell.

Bridge Team Assemble
Students Travis Pearl and Corey Erickson (from left, foreground) drill parts of their steel bridge together as Ben Worrell and Matt Huber (from left, background) run parts from an area 30 feet away.

This competition was an opportunity for students to build a project that included bridge design, bridge fabrication and attracting sponsors. The ASCE club formed the Steel Bridge Cabinet to coordinate different aspects of their steel bridge: Faust, Taylor Kvidera (vice president of design), Brandon Niebuhr (vice president of fabrication), and Aaron Curtis (vice president of corporate relations).

For a list of Midwest conference sponsors, visit

The steel bridge contest was part of the ASCE Midwest Regional Conference, which attracted faculty and industry speakers from the area. Presenters included CCEE Assistant Professor Simon Laflamme, CCEE Lecturer Beth Hartmann, EFCO engineer Andrew Gray (BSCE’05) and Snyder & Associates engineer Nathan Carhoff. Jeffrey Coleman (BSCE’76, MSCE’77) of Coleman, Hull & van Vliet, delivered the keynote speech at the conference banquet March 15 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center. Tours of the Iowa State wind tunnel facility and Biorenewables Research Laboratory also were part of the event.

With the Steel Bridge Cabinet, a student planning committee coordinated the conference: senior Nick Locke (co-chair), senior Meaghan Carty (co-chair), 2012 graduate Andrew Barone (funds coordinator), junior Chelsea Czapla (logistics), junior Grant Ives (registration coordinator), senior Clay DeWitt (ASCE chapter president), senior Tim Schlosser (tour coordinator), junior Tate Hackbarth (speaker coordinator), junior Tyler Wilson (social event coordinator), Ben Worrell (banners), and senior Brett Beattie (publicity coordinator).

Student teams also competed in the ASCE regional Daniel W. Mead Paper Competition. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities won this contest, with University of Iowa placing second and Lakehead University placing third. In this contest, a student from each regional university discussed his or her essay through a five-minute oral presentation about the ethical association of credentials with competency. First place earned $100 cash, while second place earned $60 and third place earned $40.

For photos from the ASCE/AISC Midwest Regional Steel Bridge Competition, visit the CCEE department Facebook page at