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
In the 2012-13 season, we are placed with the challenge of creating a steel bridge that dimensions about 17 feet long, 3-5 feet tall, and 4 feet wide. Once again, an overhead truss is an option. Each piece must fit inside a 36 inch by 6 inch by 4 inch box and then be bolted to all other pieces of the bridge that it touches. The main concern is that the final 3-5 feet of the bridge are cantilevered. We also need to worry about construction. This year, the bridge is again constructed from one side with individual pieces. Much like last year, there is ground on the far side as well as a cofferdam in the river, but no one is actually allowed in the river. One last twist thrown into the competition is that there are no dovetail or tee connections allowed this year. This will likely prove to be a challenge, but we look forward to looking for new innovative ways to have a great bridge.