UAF student steel bridge team places fourth in the nation

The UAF Steel Bridge competition team together outside the Usibelli Building.
UAF photo by Marina Barbosa Santos
Members of the UAF steel bridge competition team pose outside the Usibelli Building. In the back row, from left, are Wilhelm Muench, Lucas Gomes, Porter Baffrey, Jerry Carroll and Cody Hernandez Farr. In the front row, from left, are Janet Felix, Iza Lepkowski, Lori Houghton, Darya Kholodova, Jenna Hernandez, Haylie Cortez and Dani Klebesadel.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks team placed fourth overall in the 2024 Student Steel Bridge Competition national finals on June 1 in Louisiana.

The competition, sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction, brought together students from 49 universities to assemble their scaled steel bridges.

The UAF College of Engineering and Mines team’s bridge dominated in efficiency and stiffness, taking first and second place respectively in those ranking categories.

The bridge competition followed months of meticulous planning, designing and testing, as well as a successful earlier competition. UAF’s team placed first in the Pacific Northwest regional contest, April 6-7, in Vancouver, B.C.

The team captain was Haylie Cortez. The nationals travel team consisted of students Cortez, Lucas Gomes, Jenna Hernandez, Darya Kholodova, Cody Hernandez Farr and Lori Houghton. Other team members who helped create the bridge entry at UAF were Porter Baffrey, Richard Brock, Jerry Carroll, Richard Collins, Janet Felix, Dani Klebesadel, and Iza Lepkowski.

Engineering faculty members Wilhelm Muench and Il Sang Ahn advised the team. Muench accompanied the team to Louisiana.

Muench and Ahn commended the team’s cooperative spirit and technical expertise. The team's first-place finish in efficiency highlighted their skill in balancing different design components within their project, such as weight and deflection.

Below are the UAF team’s placements in each of the seven ranked categories:

• 1st place in efficiency
• 2nd in stiffness
• 5th in cost estimation
• 10th in construction speed
• 11th in economy
• 13th in aesthetics
• 21st in lightness