UTEP Student Engineers Defend 'Steel Bridge' Title in Houston
January 18, 2012 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
UTEP Steel Bridge Team
Student engineers from The University of Texas at El Paso decisively earned their second straight first place finish at the regional AISC-ASCE Steel Bridge Competition on January 13th - 14th at the Pasadena (Texas) Convention Center.
Judges, who based their decision on six categories, gave the UTEP bridge and its team top marks in four categories – economy, efficiency, speed and stiffness – as well as a second-place in weight. The team competed against nine universities in the Texas-Mexico region and will move on to the national competition May 25-27 at Clemson University in South Carolina. This will be the second year in a row that UTEP's team has competed at the national level.
The 26 team members, who include 14 students from last year's team, range from freshmen to a doctoral student. They worked diligently since August to prepare for the contest, said team captain David Ledesma, who led the UTEP squad to nationals last year and earned his master's in structural engineering from UTEP in December.
"We pretty much swept the table," said Ledesma, who added that the win tasted sweeter because UTEP's name was not called in any category of the competition when he joined the team four years ago. "There's a new sheriff in town."
He said the team, whose faculty adviser is W. Shane Walker, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering, will push itself to do what it can to increase its efficiency and the strength of its bridge to improve its chances of winning nationals.
The achievement is a source of pride to the University, said Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of UTEP's College of Engineering.
"This contest provides an opportunity for our students to gain practical experience and display what they have learned in our classrooms. It is critical to their professional development," he said. "Their victory also displays the capabilities of our students, as well as the faculty who teach them. Both are clearly top notch."
The plan is to display the winning bridge in the near future in the lobby outside the dean's office in the College of Engineering.
The University of Houston hosted the event, which is sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Society of Civil Engineers.