Bookmark This PageIncrease Font SizeDecrease Font SizeRevert to Default Font Size

Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team Maintains Third Place National Standing Overall

(June 8, 2010 – Thunder Bay, ON) Lakehead University's Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team fared well in all seven scoring categories at the 19th Annual AISC/ASCE US National Student Steel Bridge Competition, hosted by Indiana's Purdue University at the end of May.  Among the 46 universities that competed, Lakehead's team won awards in four categories, placing second in Construction Speed, Construction Economy, and Display, and taking Third Place Overall. 

Canadian Institute of Steel Construction President observes as Lakehead's 2010 Steel Bridge Team loads iron lengths onto bridge to test its strength and deflection

Prior to the competition date, all qualifying teams are faced with fabricating a 21-foot-long scaled model of a proposed bridge that satisfies the 40-page hypothetical specification given to all teams. This year's specification stated the bridge was a means of providing access to a new oil field located in the Arctic Tundra, and had to span a river and adjacent floodway.  The Lakehead team's faculty advisors, Drs. Tony Gillies and Timo Tikka, note the second place Display ranking is particularly satisfying.  "This indicates that Lakehead's team produced what, through the eyes of the judges, was one of the most elegant solutions to the design statement," says Dr. Gillies. 

"Although Lakehead’s teams are veterans of the competition, we still feel a nervous thrill when spectators watch our students assemble their bridge as quickly as possible," explains Associate Professor (Civil Engineering) Dr. Tikka, adding that nerves also come into play after the bridges are assembled and are loaded with 100 lengths of angle iron, each weighing 25 lbs, in order to simulate a loaded truck crossing the bridge.  With a total applied load of 2500 lbs, which equals more than ten times the weight of the bridge, the strength and deflection (or stiffness in lay terms) of the bridges are tested.  All teams' bridges are then unloaded and weighed to determine which weighs the least, and then scores are converted into an equivalent dollar amount.  The bridge with the lowest cost wins the competition. 

"Team members are grateful to the numerous sponsors whose support made it possible for us to participate in this year's national event," adds Chair of Lakehead University's Civil Engineering Department Dr. Gillies.  "It's a wonderful feeling to know we continue to do our sponsors proud."  Lakehead is the only Canadian team to place in the top five overall since the inception of the competition. 

Proud Lakehead team members accept their awards
Proud Lakehead team members and faculty advisors (L-R) Dr. Tony Gillies, Lisa Nguyen, Zack White, Fred Lavoie, Andrew Pearson, Dane Parent, and Dr. Timo Tikka accept awards. 

A new team of students hopes to maintain Lakehead's tradition of excellent performance, and will work to qualify for the next national competition, to be hosted by Texas A&M University in May 2011.







About Lakehead University's Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team

Lakehead's 2010 Civil Engineering Steel Bridge Team competed against more than 190 universities in order to make it to the national competition.  Prior to the national competition, Lakehead placed first at the Mid-West Regional Competition in Brookings, South Dakota.

Lakehead's teams have done consistently well at the national level, placing tenth in 2001, second in 2002, fifth in 2003 and 2006, fourth in 2007, third in 2009, and again third in 2010.  This year, four Canadian universities participated in the national competition, which is the largest Canadian representation to date.

Members of this year's Steel Bridge Team were Frederic Lavoie, Lisa Nguyen, Dane Parent, Andrew Pearson, and Zack White. 


1.  North Dakota State University     $2.183M
2.  UC Berkeley       $2.307M
3.  Lakehead University      $2.516M
4.  UC Davis        $2.648M
5.  University of Akron      $2.664M
6.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
7.  Lafayette College   
8.  University of Florida
9.  Washington State University
10. Drexel University
35. University of British Columbia
39. Universite Laval
DNF Ecole de Technologie Superieure


MEDIA:  Drs. Gillies and some team members are available for media interview.  Contact Heather Scott, Communications Officer, at (807) 343-8177 or for more information.

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 7,700 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 June 08, 2010

News RSS Feed Stay Informed - Subscribe to our RSS Feed