The year of the ApoCALypse: Steel Bridge Team wins nationals

Steel Bridge team member Curtis Siegfried (CEE) celebrates after the judges' inspection. PHOTO COURTESY STEEL BRIDGE TEAMSteel Bridge team member Curtis Siegfried (CEE) celebrates after the judges' inspection. (Photo by Steel Bridge Team.)Berkeley's Steel Bridge Team, based in the civil and environmental engineering department, won the 2012 national steel bridge title on May 25 and 26. Roughly 600 students from 47 engineering schools from across the country gathered to compete and test their steel structure design, fabrication and construction skills during this year’s competition at Clemson University.

Berkeley’s team of 35 students named their bridge design the ApoCALypse, and during fall semester set about creating a bridge that would survive even the end of the world. Built at a 1:10 scale, the bridge is a series of interlocking parts that when fitted and fastened together create a structure that is 22.5 feet long, weighs 131 pounds and was able to hold 2,500 pounds.

The steel bridge competition, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction, among others, began in 1992. Berkeley’s team has been competing for the past eight years. In 2008, the team won their first national title with a design called Calatrava, named in honor of Santiago Calatrava, the famed Spanish architect and civil engineer.

The 2012 Steel Bridge team pictured with ApoCALypse during the national competition at Clemson University. PHOTO COURTESY STEEL BRIDGE TEAMThe 2012 Steel Bridge team pictured with ApoCALypse during the national competition at Clemson University. (Photo by Steel Bridge Team.)During last year’s competition at Texas A&M, Berkeley’s steel bridge team was disqualified after failing the lateral load test. The setback weighed heavy for the team, which had spent the entire academic year preparing for the contest. This year the team redoubled their efforts and won or placed in many of the national competition’s categories, ultimately leading to an overall victory.

The steel bridge competition is judged on stiffness, lightness, display, efficiency, economy and speed of construction. Besides solid engineering, the team’s success depended, in large part, on how well they worked together to assemble the bridge quickly and accurately.

Watch this YouTube video to hear Sabrina Odah (B.S.’12, CEE), the ApoCALypse project manager, explain more about the steel bridge competition and to see photos of the team in action.