A team from West Virginia University captured first place in the steel bridge competition at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Virginias Conference, held at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., March 31–April 2.

Seventeen WVU engineering students were at the competition with the 280-pound steel bridge they designed and fabricated over the past eight months. They are the first group from WVU in more than 20 years to capture top honors in the regional competition.

“This year, we did extensive research into previous years’ designs to come up with a bridge that was not only structurally sound but could be put together quickly,” said Marcus Spina, a senior civil engineering major and the steel bridge team captain. “What we ended up with was a bridge that was a bit heavier than our previous bridges and consisted only of a lower truss system.”

The bridge design followed a strict set of standards and guidelines set by the national organization that could withstand 2,500 pounds of weight. The pieces of the bridge were all three feet or smaller in length and were constructed with a simple bolt system for speed.

“At the competition, we knew we would be judged on the time it took to construct our bridge,” said Spina, a Cross Lanes native. “When we started practicing building the bridge, it took us almost two hours. By the competition, we could do it in under 15 minutes.”

According to Spina, the success the team found this weekend is even sweeter because they fabricated the bridge entirely by themselves.

“We made the whole bridge without the help of professionals,” said Spina. “Everyone was in the machine shop several days a week to cut, grind and weld the steel to make the bridge. We checked and double checked everything ourselves.”

Joining Spina on the team are civil engineering majors Sean Cottrill (Mineral Wells), Alex Gennuso (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania), Tyler Rockhill (South Hampton, New Jersey), Robby Tennant (Fairview), Lee Shields (Rossiter, Pennsylvania), William Barker (Mineral Wells), John Malone (Gambrills, Maryland), James Peterman (California, Pennsylvania), Mike DeYoung (Downington, Pennsylvania), Andrew Pacifico (Stewartsville, New Jersey), Katelyn Kosar (Monrovia, Maryland), Derrick Merwin (Frederick, Maryland) Daniel Boyles (Morgantown), Chris Mierzejewski (Morgantown), petroleum and natural gas engineering major Zack Nagy (Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania) and fundamentals of engineering students Tess Marunich (Fairmont) and Michael Macioce (Elizabeth, Pennsylvania).

By virtue of the win, the team now moves on to the national competition at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, scheduled for May 27-28. Forty teams from across the nation are expected to attend.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the steel bridge team as it represents hundreds of labor hours and years of team building efforts,” said Jennifer Weidhaas, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-advisor of the team. “The students have learned valuable design, teamwork, budgeting and time management skills during the process. This is truly a student led team and they are to be highly commended for their independent accomplishment and professional conduct.” The team was co-advised by Assistant Professor Antar Jutla.

Over the next month, the team will check their bridge for any structural issues that may have arisen from the regional competition and fundraise for the expensive trip.

“Getting to Utah is another task all in itself because of the number of team members we would like to see go and getting the tools and bridge all the way across the country,” said Spina. “But we’re up for the challenge and we’re excited to put WVU’s name out there in a good light.”



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4086, Mary.Dillon@mail.wvu.edu

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