Taylor Jaseph | The Poly Post

Steeling the show: CPP’s Steel Bridge Team earns spot in nationals after a beaming performance

By Christie Counts, April 25, 2023

Cal Poly Pomona Steel Bridge Team will be advancing to the National Final’s Competition after placing second in the recent competition, American Society of Civil Engineers Pacific Southwest Symposium. PSWS drew 15 universities in California and Hawaii to Northridge to compete in civil engineering design and construction challenges. For the second year in a row all 19 members will be traveling to University of California, San Diego, the host of the 2023 American Institute of Steel Construction Student Steel Bridge Competition National Finals. 

Steel Bridge contestants gain real-world engineering experiences on a competitive level through the AISC contests. This year the regional competition was held at California State University, Northridge. CPP placed second in the Steel Bridge competition, which requires students to develop a concept for a scale-model steel bridge that is 24 feet and carries 2,500 pounds.

Citlalli Vazquez, civil engineering student and Project Manager of the Steel Bridge Team, explained how the day of competition progressed and how every member of the team was there in support of the four people constructing. 

 “We were waiting for our moment to go in and it was really exciting to have our whole team there to support our team of four people who were building for construction,” said Vazquez.

Each year AISC releases updated regulations that outline the problem statement, scoring criteria, as well as specifications for materials, components, structures, equipment and construction. Consequently, the team is then required to design, fabricate and construct a one-tenth scale steel bridge while adhering to the rules set forth by AISC.

Khanh Doan, a civil engineering student and the Steel Bridge’s design captain recounted the team’s dedication before and during competition which allowed them to place second on PSWS competition day. 

Doan explained at the start of the year as soon as the rules are released the technical team joins forces with the designers to interpret the guidelines and brainstorm design concepts for the bridge. Additionally, the technical team communicates with the construction and fabrication captains to ensure the bridge concept is constructable. 

Taylor Jaseph | The Poly Post

Lily Yang, a civil engineering student and technical captain of the Steel Bridge team expressed how the win felt after dedicating countless hours and resources to be able to qualify for nationals. 

“It felt really surreal, seeing the bridge actually getting built and you can really tell the amount of work we put in,” said Yang. “You could really tell the effort and how much was learned throughout the year that we were able to make these connections.”

Yang attributed the success of their team was becaue of the team and praised her teammates dedication and use of their talents for the competition. 

All members of the Steel Bridge Team collaborated to prepare for the PSWS competition. Together they performed exceptionally in construction speed, lightness, stiffness, aesthetics, construction economy and structural efficiency. 

PSWS challenged the students on the team, allowing them to have valuable experiences that will carry onto their prospective career fields. 

Vazquez explained the Steel Bridge Team gave her the opportunity to sharpen her communications skills and rely and collaborate with everyone on the team. She explained how it’s OK to not know everything and to depend on her teammates in those moments.

Doan also shared how the skills she acquired through the team have prepared her for her future career.

“Before coming into Steel Bridge, I only looked at things on the conceptual aspect,” said Doan. “People opened my eyes and showed me things I was designing are not constructible or not practical even though it’s a perfect design. So, it has opened my eyes on how we should not always follow what we think is right or just the numbers, it has to be constructable.”

The next obstacle the Steel Bridge Team will build over is nationals. The National Final’s Competition will bring together the winners of 20 regional competitions throughout North America to compete for the top spot in the nation. From the Pacific Southwest Region, Cal State Northridge, CPP and UCSD.

According to the American Institute of Steel Construction the national competition will require teams to design, fabricate and construct a conceptual scaled steel bridge that could serve as a hypothetical crossing in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

To learn more and keep updated, visit the CPP Steel Bridge Instagram. 

Feature image by Taylor Jaseph

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