The UW-Madison Steel Bridge Team competes in the annual National Student Steel Bridge Competition. Since the competition was originated in 1988 and went nation-wide in 1992, it has provided an opportunity for college students to test their knowledge against their peers. Each year the national rules committee creates and releases a new set of rules where the general objective is to design, fabricate, and construct the least costly bridge. These "costs" are based on the Structural Efficiency - how much it weighs and deflects under the 2500 pound loading - and Construction Economy - how long it takes how many people to build it.
Major Factors in This Year's Design
The 2013-2014 competition will see new many changes from previous years. First, there will be no cantilever like years past. The challenge will be to create a bridge that spans about 17 feet, 4 feet wide, and 2 to 5 feet tall. The envelope beneath the decking structure has been decreased from about 17 inches to 9 inches so there are many different design approaches that our team will consider. Additionally, unlike previous years, the area designated as "water" will be open to people acting as "barges" which is contrary to the cofferdam theme in the past. Like last year there will also be a "contact" surface rule but with some restrictions. All of these changes will challenging; however, we are excited to design, fabricate, and contsruct a great bridge in the upcoming months.