The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Steel Bridge Competition Team Wins Regionals and Qualifies for Nationals

4 students in zoom grid hold up their drink mugs to the camera

cw top left: Kuszewski, Lovell, Brooks, Provost

A team of six UMass Amherst students from the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department recently placed among the top nine teams in the design-only supplemental phase of the American Institute of Steel Construction’s (AISC) annual Student Steel Bridge Competition. As a story from the UMass News Office explained, the CEE team won its regional competition, which qualified it to move on to the national finals. The team was advised by CEE Assistant Professor Kara Peterman.

Peterman said the team faced two major transitions this past year: the passing of the torch from graduating students with steel bridge experience to a brand new team, new to the competition; and migrating a competition with a significant hands-on element to a virtual world. The team met frequently to not only design and analyze the steel bridge, but to teach themselves relevant material.

The UMass Amherst team is one of 32 schools that qualified for the finals, which will be held virtually in May, with the AISC presenting the national awards on June 3.

According to the Informed Infrastructure website, “This year, the American Institute of Steel Construction’s signature university competition offered two ways for schools to participate safely: either through a remote program in which teams designed, fabricated, constructed, and tested their bridges from campus, or in a design-only supplemental competition.”

The UMass team competed in the supplemental competition, in which teams that could not build their actual bridges physically due to pandemic restrictions were assessed on the design, analysis, and construction sequencing.

The UMass team finished in the top nine in the supplemental competition, which attracted 38 teams from around the United States. By comparison, 80 teams participated in the compete-from-campus program.

According to the UMass News Office, the UMass team of CEE students consists of Kevin Brooks and Aidan Provost, both seniors; Kitty Lovell and Faye Kuszewski, both sophomores; and graduate students Michael Kamlarz and Daniel Ankiewicz.

Peterman told the News Office that a special challenge to this year’s competition was that the students could not gather in person to work on their design and had to collaborate remotely. Additionally, some of the team members had yet to take any steel-design courses and were therefore learning much of the material for the first time.

Teams will compete remotely in the national finals as well. Teams competing in the supplemental design-only competition will move forward with their existing entries. Judges will factor in results from a public vote on their submission videos. (May 2021)