The Catholic University of America

April 28, 2011

CUA Engineering Students to Participate in National Steel Bridge Building Contest

  Steel bridge team members (from left to right, back row) Brenda Tedrick, Tim Quine, Dan Joyce, Mike Lauriello, Chris Scotti, Chris Reymann, and Frances MacKinnon, and (front row) Amedeo Petrongolo and Pat Terry.


Catholic University’s Steel Bridge Building Team has been invited to participate in a national competition as a result of its first-place win in the regional contest of the three-day American Society of Civil Engineers Virginia Conference.

The eight-member team beat out archrival Virginia Polytechnic University as well as seven other schools. The national competition will be held May 20 and 21 at Texas A & M University.

“I’m really proud of our students,” said Scott Mathews, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science who helped CUA team members prepare for the regional contest, which was held April 15 and 16 in Morgantown, W.Va.

“This is an extracurricular activity for them,” Mathews added. “They don’t get any [academic] credit and they put in hours and hours of work.”

The other schools at the regional competition included George Mason University, George Washington University, Howard University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Military Institute, West Virginia University, and the West Virginia Institute of Technology.

Graduate student Chris Scotti, co-captain of the CUA team, is one of four team members who competed in the steel bridge competition for the third year in a row. “We all started as rookies, so this year’s win is especially exciting.

“I think our ranking in the regional competition reflects well on the School of Engineering, which has been very supportive of our efforts,” Scotti added.

Other team members include co-captain Mike Lauriello and Frances MacKinnion, both mechanical engineering majors; and civil engineering majors Pat Terry, Amedeo Petrongolo, Dan Joyce, Chris Reymann, Brenda Tedrick, and graduate student Megan Dever. Negar Gargari, CUA doctoral candidate in civil engineering, has helped to design the bridge for the past two years.

The team was judged on the basis of several technical characteristics of the bridge that included load bearing ability (the ability to span its 20-foot length while supporting a 2,500-pound load of steel; deflection (a measurement of the bridge’s movement both vertically and horizontally); assembly time; and the total estimated cost of the bridge if it were built to full scale.

Mathews noted that the CUA team had to pack up and take about 63 bridge pieces and 98 nuts and bolts to the contest, and “build it from scratch.” Team members assembled the bridge in 13 minutes and 21 seconds, Scotti said.

The CUA team has been working on the bridge design since last August. The team spent about five weeks this semester making the bridge parts.

Each year, about 250 civil engineering students from Washington, D.C.-area universities convene for the ASCE regional conference. Other conference events this year included competitions related to surveying, technical papers, oral skills, concrete bowling, concrete canoes, and civil engineering jeopardy. CUA earned a third-place win in the civil engineering jeopardy contest.


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