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Rivalry, Tight Races, And Fun At This Year’s Steel Bridge And Concrete Canoe Design Competition

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

When the last steel girder was put in place and the final canoe race completed, SUNY Canton was the top-place winner in the steel bridge competition and the West Point team won first place in the concrete canoe competition.

“It was a great weekend, a lot of excitement, some surprises, and a few disappointments,” said Michael Herring, ASCE Student Chapter member and conference coordinator. “But that’s what you expect in a competition like this. Overall, I think everyone had a great time and many of the bridge and canoe designs were quite impressive.” steelbridge2005

This was the first year Clarkson hosted the annual event, which was organized by Clarkson ASCE Student Chapter. Competition sponsors included Atlantic Testing, Jefferson Concrete, the Association for Bridge Construction and Design, the Clarkson SPEED program, AKG Construction, ARAMARK, Ecology and Environment, P.C., and Conestoga-Rovers & Associates.

Teams from Clarkson University, SUNY Canton, Cornell University, Ecole de Technologie Superieure in Montreal, Rensselaer Polytechnic University, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, University of Ottawa, Union College, and Hudson Valley Community College participated in the competition.

“Overall, we were pleased with our performance,” said Clarkson steel bridge team member Jessie Cunningham, a first-year civil engineering major from Buffalo. “We were able to construct the bridge in less than 15 minutes and our weight deflection was around 5/16”. It has been a great learning experience for me and a lot of fun. I’ve gotten a lot of hands-on design and construction experience my first year at Clarkson.”

For the Concrete Canoe competition, teams designed and built streamlined canoes through magical mixtures of cements, water and aggregates that floats. At the competition, the canoes first had to pass a flotation test and then compete in a series of races, which were held at Norwood Lake in Norwood this year. The University of Ottawa finished in second place and SUNY Buffalo finished in third. The Clarkson team’s canoe experienced problems early on in the competition.

“Unfortunately our canoe suffered stress cracks – the result of problems with weight distribution - during the first race so we were out of the competition early,” said Allison Russell, a senior civil engineering major from Rochester. “Still, it was a beautiful day for racing, even if the water was cold, about 39 degrees!”

More information on the events and results are available at the Upstate New York Regional Competition Web site

The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives promoting the "Vision of a Clarkson Education" through experiential learning by hands-on application of academic theory to real-world problems. SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund, and Procter & Gamble and was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

PHOTO CAPTION: Members of Clarkson University Steel Bridge team work to assemble their bridge during the American Society of Civil Engineers regional collegiate design competition that was held at Clarkson last weekend. The competition challenges teams of students to design and build a 1:10 scale model that will hold at least 2,500 pounds of weight with minimal deflection and cost. Designs are judged by professional engineers and architects in six competition categories, including construction speed, lightness, stiffness, construction economics, aesthetics and structural efficiency. Twelve teams participated this year. SUNY Canton was the top-place winner, the Ecole de Technologie Superieure in Montreal took second, and the Clarkson team finished third.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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