Feature Stories

NJIT Wins the Steel Bridge Contest for 9th Year in a Row

Members of NJIT's 2014 Steel Bridge Team proudly display their winning bridge.

NJIT won the Steel-Bridge competition on Saturday, making it the ninth year in a row that NJIT has taken the metropolitan contest. The competition was held at the NJIT campus.

Seven teams competed, with NJIT defeating other top colleges such as Columbia, Cooper Union and NYU-Polytechnic. By taking first place, NJIT earned an invitation to the National Steel Bridge Competition, held Memorial Day weekend at the University of Akron.

In Saturday's contest, the teams assembled their bridges under deadline pressure, as judges looked on. The rules were rigorous and five teams were disqualified because their bridges did not meet specifications. The NJIT team, though, never faltered.

Edwin Puma, a steel bridge co-captain, said his team of 15 NJIT students worked on the bridge for months and that the victory was a “payoff for all that hard work.”

“This team was so dedicated and hardworking – that’s why we won today,” said Edwin, a senior majoring in civil engineering.

John Schuring, a professor of civil engineering who for decades has winningly advised the steel bridge team, said he was “thrilled” that the team once again won the regional championship. Over the years, he said, the NJIT teams have succeeded because the students join of their own volition. They don’t get academic credit for joining the teams. They join because they want to -- and that makes all the difference.

“Civil engineering majors love hands-on projects,” he says. “They put in months of hard work because they love to build.  That’s one of the keys to their success.”

Another key is that the upper classmen on the teams mentor the younger members, which leads to a continuous legacy of learning and winning, said Schuring. Many steel-bridge team alumni also return to help the teams build their bridges. Two corporate sponsors, Acrow USA and Schiavone Construction, also donate supplies to the teams and invite them into their shops to fabricate their bridges.

“It all comes together in the end to help us win,” Schuring said. “The older students on the teams help the younger students; the alums help all the team members and our sponsors are so generous with their time and expertise. Now it’s onto the National Steel-Bridge Competition in Akron, where I think we will do very well.”

Robert Florida