The KU steel bridge team has earned a trip to nationals after finishing third out of 12 teams that competed April 28 at the the 2011 Regional Student Steel Bridge Competition at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Team captain Chris Hagan, a sixth-year senior in architectural engineering, said a first place finish was well within reach -- about .07 of an inch, actually. The sticking point was the KU bridge's performance on its lateral support test -- which involves judges placing 75 pounds on the side the structure and pulling it.
"The maximum deflection (allowed) was .5 inchs and we got .57 inches," Hagan said. "But we can fix that for nationals."
The national competition is May 21-22 at Texas A&M University in College Station. The KU team plans to attend, despite the competition coinciding with graduation.
"I came to the decision (to go to nationals) due to the fact that we would of won (regionals) if we wouldn't have been penalized," Hagan said. "I will miss Saturday's (School of Engineering recognition ceremony) and I am the only senior going...but I will be back in time to walk down the hill on Sunday."
The competition emphasizes the amount of weight the bridge can support and keeping estimated “real-world” construction costs low, while teams race the clock to assemble their structures. The team constructed its bridge in seven minutes at the regional competition.
The KU bridge is 21 feet long, 3 feet wide, 2 feet 6 inches tall and weighs around 315 pounds. It has an estimated real-world cost of about $4 million.