NJIT Team Wins Steel Bridge Competition: Civil Engineers on a Roll

The 2007 National Steel Bridge Competition winners

A team of civil engineering students from NJIT won first place overall in the 2007 Metropolitan Regional Steel-Bridge Competition, held recently at the New York College of Technology, in Brooklyn.

 The NJIT Steel Bridge Team also received first-place awards in the categories of construction economy, structural efficiency, lightness and construction speed. The NJIT students beat out teams from Columbia University, Rutgers University, the College of New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology and other schools from the metro region.

The team will advance to the 2007 National Steel Bridge Competition, held Memorial Day weekend at the University of California, in Northridge, California.

This is the third award in three months that NJIT civil-engineering students have won. In February, a team of civil engineering students won a national seismic award for designing a building that could withstand earthquake conditions. That team also had competed against and beat some of the nation’s biggest engineering schools. And last month, the NJIT student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers was named the Newark College of Engineering’s Outstanding Student Chapter Award.

All the members of the Steel Bridge Team also belong to the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The members of the NJIT Steel Bridge Team are Hertzler Awuy, Brian Felber, Steven Flormann, Giancarlo Fricano,  Indira Hernandez, Vince Manners, Anthony Massari, Shefali  Patel, Diana Rodriguez, Menilik Rutty, Nishant Shah, Lauren Thompson and team captain Britain Materek.

“It’s always gratifying to win, especially after all of the time and effort that goes into the design and fabrication of the bridge,” said Materek, who was recently named the civil engineering student of the year. “The team has literally spent hundreds of hours designing and fabricating this bridge and winning really validates all that hard work.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers, along with the American Institute of Steel Construction, sponsors the annual steel bridge competition to foster excellence in civil engineering programs.

 Each student team designs and builds a reduced-scale bridge based on requirements set by the sponsors. Students are given freedom in terms of how they meet the contest’s rules, but they erect their bridges at the competition under a deadline. This year, the NJIT team concentrated on reducing its construction time, Materek said.

“For this competition I really wanted to focus on our construction speed, which to some extent dictated our bridge design,” he said, “The past two years we have had great bridges with relatively high construction times, which has hurt us at the national level. This year we wanted to reduce the construction time so we could be more competitive at the national level.”

It’s hard to know how the team will fare in the national steel bride competition, Materek said. “But we feel that this year we definitely have a shot to finish at the top of the pack.”

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)