A Bridge to Somewhere the Nationals: NJIT Steel Bridge Team Takes First Place in Regional Contest

Civil engineering students at NJIT are on a bridge-making roll.  For the fourth year in a row, a team of civil engineering students won the Metropolitan Region’s Steel Bridge Competition. The team of 25 students not only took first place overall in the 2009 bridge competition, held at Polytechnic University, but also won first place in two design categories: structural efficiency and stiffness. 

The NJIT team defeated ten engineering schools including Columbia University, Cooper Union, Rutgers University, Stevens Institute and the College of New Jersey.  Winning the competition earned NJIT a spot in the national steel bridge competition, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend at the University of Nevada. 

The regional competition is rigorous, requiring teams to assemble a reduced-scale bridge (about one tenth the size of an actual bridge) under deadline pressure. The 20-foot long bridge had to be lightweight yet strong enough to sustain a 2,500 pound load.  

The NJIT team used a quick-connecting pin joint that helped them quickly assemble their bridge. They also used a lightweight three-dimensional truss design that made for a lightweight yet strong bridge. Two corporate partners -- Acrow Bridges and Schiavone Construction Corp. helped the team with the bridge.  

"Working on this bridge since last summer allowed our team to see its work go from a conceptual design to a final fabrication,” said Tien Tran, a civil engineering major and co-captain of the team. “That’s a very rewarding experience for students to have.” 

Giancarlo Fricano, the team’s other co-captain, said that the team considered more than 18 bridge designs before deciding on its final winning design. The team also used computer models, prototype testing and stress analyses to evaluate the bridge. 

“The goal of all of these steps is to push NJIT into the top 10 in the upcoming National Steel Bridge Competition,” Fricano said.  “Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the moon reached in one mission. But our team has made major strides towards advancing its standing nationally.  This is a year, a bridge and a team to be proud of.”