Civil Engineers' Steel Bridge, Concrete Canoe Contests at MSU This Weekend

EAST LANSING — Teams of collegiate engineers from across Michigan and Ohio will be building 21-foot steel bridges inside the Breslin Center and racing concrete canoes at Lansing’s Hawk Island Park when Michigan State University hosts the American Society of Civil Engineers 2016 North Central Student Conference, April 7-9.

The conference hosts two intercollegiate design contests: the Steel Bridge Construction Competition and the Concrete Canoe Competition. Events are free and open to the public.

This year’s teams are from:
Case Western Reserve University (steel bridge only)
Lawrence Technological University
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
Ohio Northern University
University of Detroit Mercy (concrete canoe only)
University of Michigan
University of Toledo
Western Michigan University

Events begin Thursday, April 7, with captain’s meetings at 6 p.m., an icebreaker at 6:30 p.m., and technical paper presentations from 7 to 9 p.m. in the College of Engineering Room 3405.

Steel bridge competition: Friday, April 8, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Breslin Center, MSU, 534 Birch Road, East Lansing, MI 48823

Best time to view the competition: 8 a.m. to noon

The Student Steel Bridge Competition is a varsity-level challenge for competing ASCE civil engineering student teams. Students work for months to design, fabricate, and erect a 21-foot long steel bridge. The requirements are strict — to support 2,500 pounds with minimum sag. Bridges arrive at the competition sites in three-foot long pieces and must be assembled during the timed competition without stepping in an imaginary river.

MSU steel bridge advisor Frank Hatfield said the contest is more than just an opportunity for teams to show off their understanding of steel design, steel fabrication, and teamwork. “A lot of pride and sweat equity goes into this college challenge every year,” the long-time advisor said. “Steel bridge requires students to design and build their product from scratch. “Students convert their designs to shop drawings and build the structure piece by piece. Judges examine their work for qualities including lightness, economy, appearance and various measures of strength and stability.”

See a 2015 video from MSU’s Steel bridge team at

Winning teams at MSU will represent the North Central Region in the national competition at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, May 27-28. MSU has won the regional contest for the past three years. Read more on the 2016 National Student Steel Bridge Competition at:

Concrete canoe competition: Saturday, April 9, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hawk Island Park, 1601 E. Cavanaugh Road, Lansing, MI 48910

Best time to view the competition: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Michigan State’s concrete canoe this year is named Leonidas, said team captain Scott Pressey, a senior in civil engineering from Dearborn. Team advisors are George Stockman, a retired professor of computer science and engineering, and Anthony Ingle, a specialist in civil and environmental engineering.

The regional contest is part of the National Concrete Canoe Competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with team and project management skills they will need in their careers. The event challenges the students’ knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material. The organization’s first national concrete canoe contest was hosted in East Lansing by MSU in 1988.

This year’s winners will represent the North Central Region at the national competition at the University of Texas at Tyler from June 9-11, 2016. Read more on the 2016 National Concrete Canoe Competition at:

The national competitions are sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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