College Engineers in Town for Competition

College Engineers in Town for Competition

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Shelley Osterloh ReportingAbout 300 civil engineering students from western Universities are in Salt Lake this week for Regional Engineering competition. Events range from building bottle rockets and sand tunnels to creating a canoe out of cement.

Each of the ten teams has the pieces of their bridge ready to assemble and at the judges’ signal they begin construction.

Barney Frankl, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology: "It’s really exciting but extremely nervous till ya put the bridge together. After that it calms down a lot but before that it’s all nerves."

Many have spent months designing, redesigning and fabricating the pieces for their 21 foot bridge. Each one is made of structural steel. The four footings have to fit in certain spot --- a few inches off and your disqualified. Red lines on the ground symbolize wetlands, workers cannot even step there.

Jeremy Tuck, University of Wyoming: "You know you are out there. People are screaming and things aren't going right and you're sweating and can't see through misty goggles so it can be stressful, but worth doing for competition for sure."

Students say they learn a lot from the competition, especially teamwork.

Barney Frankl, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology: “And we usually practice very night once we get it built.”
Reporter: “So how many times have you put this bridge together?”
Barney Frankl: “I can’t count that high. I think I need my calculator.”

Chris DeMille, Utah State University: “You learn that engineering is not the same as building, so you have to be able to work both sides to make it work.”

Jeremy Spangler, University of Utah: "Each year we actually have collective experiences. What we did last year, we had bolts pull out so this year we had stronger connections with more steel."

Chris Turnbull, Grimes Colorado State University: "I love structures and it helps be get an idea of how structures work."

Each bridge is also weighed. One from the University of Wyoming comes in about 300 pounds. Students are judged on how fast they can put them together, but the real test comes when they start adding 25-pound weights on top of the bridge. Then we'll see which one is the strongest.

Judges calculate the speed of construction, bridge weight, and strength to determine which one is the most efficient. Winners go on to the national competition, but everyone goes home a little better and smarter for the experience.

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