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WKU steel bridge team finishes 1st in nation for best looking bridge, 37th overall

WKU civil engineering students competed in the 2016 National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 27-28 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Members of WKU's steel bridge team (from left) Jacob Cornett, Colton Dorris, Daniel Hammer, Drake Riley, James Thomason, Nathan Hughes, Caitlin Brown, Lacey Martin, Sarah Hay and Dr. Shane Palmquist (faculty advisor). (Not pictured: Student team members Jessica Collins, Taylor McMurtry, Cory Smith, Franklyn Perez and Fahad Alhumaid.)

Members of WKU’s steel bridge team (from left) Jacob Cornett, Colton Dorris, Daniel Hammer, Drake Riley, James Thomason, Nathan Hughes, Caitlin Brown, Lacey Martin, Sarah Hay and Dr. Shane Palmquist (faculty advisor). (Not pictured: Student team members Jessica Collins, Taylor McMurtry, Cory Smith, Franklyn Perez and Fahad Alhumaid.)

WKU finished 37th overall in the competition, but finished first in the nation for the best looking bridge, which was an amazing red curved arch truss bridge. WKU was the only school at the national competition to utilize curved steel members in the bridge to form a large arch.

In addition, WKU won the Student Choice Award, chosen by the students who attend the national competition.

“This year the students wanted to design and fabricate a beautiful and stunning red curved arch steel truss bridge,” said Dr. Shane Palmquist, steel bridge team advisor. “With patience and dedication, mission accomplished. This is the first time the WKU steel bridge team has built a curved arch bridge. Their efforts were rewarded at the national competition where the judges unanimously voted that the WKU steel bridge was the best looking bridge in the nation. I am proud of their accomplishment this year.”

Construction builders from left to right:  Daniel Hammer, Sarah Hay, James Thomason, Caitlin Brown, and Colton Dorris.  Note, James Thomason holds the plaque for the best looking steel bridge in the nation.

James Thomason (center) holds the plaque for the best looking steel bridge in the nation. Other construction builders (from left) are Daniel Hammer, Sarah Hay, Caitlin Brown and Colton Dorris.

WKU finished 38th for stiffness, which is a measure of the strength of the bridge. For structural economy, which is a measure of the construction cost of the bridge, WKU finished 30th. WKU finished 32nd and 35th in construction speed and lightness, respectively.  For structural efficiency, WKU finished 39th. This category represents a measure of the total net cost of the bridge, where the lowest cost wins.

This is WKU’s fourth consecutive trip to the national competition. The student bridge team from École de Technologie Supérieure located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, won the competition.  For complete results, visit http://www.nssbc.info/History/2016SSBCRankings.pdf

More than 3,000 civil engineering students from across the nation and world including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China built over 223 steel bridges. A total of 18 regional conferences were held where student teams competed in hopes of qualifying for the National Steel Bridge Competition.

In early April, the WKU steel bridge team competed in the Ohio Valley Regional Conference which includes student teams from colleges and universities across Kentucky, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. At this competition, WKU finished in third place overall, earning a spot at the national competition.

Steel bridge team members include tri-captains James Thomason and Drake Riley of Bowling Green and Daniel Hammer of Tompkinsville; Caitlin Brown of Hartford; Colton Dorris of Clarksville, Tennessee; Jessica Collins of Somerset; Taylor McMurtry of Hendersonville, Tennessee; Cory Smith of Whitesville; Lacey Martin of Glasgow; Sarah Hay of Louisa; Jacob Cornett of Cumberland; and Nathan Hughes, Franklyn Perez and Fahad Alhumaid, all from Bowling Green.

The 2017 National Steel Bridge Competition will be held on May 25-26 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

Contact: Shane Palmquist, (270) 745-2461

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