Engineering Students Place First, Move to U.S. Finals in Bridge-Building Competition

(April 2, 2009 —Thunder Bay, ON)

Team assembles winning steel bridge

Lakehead University Civil Engineering students have come out victorious at the Annual Student Steel Bridge Competition, held at the ASCE Mid-West Regional Conference at North Dakota State University in Fargo.  As first place winners, the team will head to the U.S. National Finals for the tenth time in twelve years.

The competition challenges students to design and fabricate a 1/10 scale model of a century-old bridge which spans a river and adjacent floodway.  The models are erected under simulated field conditions, and are then load-tested.  The specification for the bridge changes from year to year; the rules mirror real-life conditions for building a full-sized version of the bridge, accounting for materials and labour cost, traffic load, and performance. 

Gavin Clements, team member

“Our team faced strong competition from eight other teams from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and especially from the North Dakota State University team,” says Dr. Timo Tikka, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Lakehead University, and Faculty advisor for the Lakehead team. “This is an excellent standing, and an earned achievement for the many hours that the students devoted to their project. I’m very proud of their efforts.”   

John O'Malley, Iron Workers - Local 759, long-time team sponsors; team members Jeff Luckai, Jesse Zylstra, and Gavin Clements; Dr. Timo Tikka team advisor; Robert McDonald, team member; and Dr. Meilan Liu of the Professional Engineers of Ontario, Local Chapter, long-time team sponsors.
The competition also included a student paper competition, in which students were asked to compose and present a 2000-word technical paper. Fred Lavoie, third-year Civil Engineering student at Lakehead, took home first place, beating out students from nine other participating universities.  The Lakehead team was also recognized with the “Person-Mileage” trophy, awarded to the university with the greatest total of registered students, multiplied by distance traveled to the competition.   

Tikka explains, “There will be about 45 teams at the National Competition, which will be held at University of Nevada – Las Vegas, on May 22-23.  Lakehead teams have had an excellent record at the national level, placing 2nd in 2002, 5th in 2003 and 2006, and 4th in 2007.  The students are really looking forward to the upcoming National Competition.”


Media:  Dr. Timo Tikka is available for media interviews. For more information contact Lisa Pelot, Communications Officer, at 343-8177, or

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,900 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit

Last updated April 03, 2009

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