Mizzou Steel Bridge Team places third in regional competition, invited to nationals

May 16, 2024

Steel Bridge Team with awards

Mizzou Steel Bridge Team is taking their successes from last year and building upon them to create a legacy of excellence. And their efforts are earning national recognition.

This spring, Mizzou Steel Bridge Team competed at the American Society of Civil Engineers Mid-America Student Symposium against 12 other schools from the region. Their competition was one of many at the symposium, which also featured networking events where students spoke with other civil engineering students, industry professionals and employers.

Where Mizzou Steel Bridge Team shined was the competition floor. The team placed third overall and won four awards in different categories. They placed second in Cost Estimation, third in Aesthetics, third in Structural Efficiency and third in Stiffness.  With these results, Mizzou also qualified for the National Student Steel Bridge Competition at Louisiana Tech University for the first time in several years.

Building the bridge

“It was cool to hear Mizzou called for third place overall, as all of our hard work had paid off,” Blake Murr, Steel Bridge Team president, said. “It was also rewarding to see how well our bridge performed in the Stiffness category. Last year, we received a large penalty for having a max deflection of 2.1 inches, but this year, our max deflection was only 0.86 inches. We worked hard to design and build a bridge that would not meet the penalty threshold of 2 inches on deflection.”

At competition, the bridges are first judged for aesthetics. Then, teams disassemble their bridges and take turns building them as fast as possible without penalties, which can include dropping bolts on the floor or stepping into a metaphorical “river” on the floor in the middle of where the bridge crosses. If judges consider the bridge safe to load, teams are then evaluated on their bridge’s strength in vertical and lateral load testing.

“The competition went well for our team,” Murr said. “We had no dimension penalties and minimal time penalties, and we easily passed both lateral and vertical deflections testing.”

The team also took a risk this year designing an inverted truss bridge for competition. This design meant that instead of having the supports above the bridge’s surface, the supports were underneath, similar to the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage Beach, Missouri.

“Mizzou hadn’t built an under-truss in several years and we decided to take on the challenge,” Murr said. “There were several times during design and fabrication when we weren’t sure if the under-truss was going to work, but it was a lot of fun to ultimately build one of the best bridges in the Regional Competition.”

Steel Bridge Officers with Bridge
Team Officers with the bridge

And now, they’re getting ready to take their design to Louisiana to compete against teams from across the country.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to compete at the National Steel Bridge Competition,” Murr said. “This will be a challenge for us, but I believe it will be a rewarding experience for our team and something that we’ll be able to learn a lot from to keep improving our bridges year after year.”

The team is always looking for hardworking individuals to join them in building a better bridge.

“Any student at Mizzou is welcome to join the team,” Murr said. “If you’re interested in learning design software, want to gain some hands-on work experience or are looking to make some friends working towards the goal of building a bridge, joining the Mizzou Steel Bridge Team might be the right move for you. It’s a lot of fun to design a steel bridge based on many requirements and then be able to go out into the shop, build it from scratch and see it perform well at competition.”

Earn your engineering degree where you can join a competition build team. Choose Mizzou Engineering!