The American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter at Hudson Valley Community College is proud to announce that our student steel bridge team finished in 5th place out of 13 schools at the Upstate New York Regional Conference last weekend at Syracuse University in the Carrier Dome. Our team finished ahead of SUNY Polytechnic, SUNY Buffalo, Clarkson University, RPI, Montreal Polytechnic, West Point, Syracuse University and Cornell University. The 4 schools that beat us were ETS from Montreal, SUNY Canton, University of Waterloo and RIT.
Hudson Valley has participated in this competition annually since 1993 (with the exception of 2016), and according to the national head judge, we are the only community college that competes in the event.
Each year the students design a steel bridge that is approximately 20 feet long and 4 feet wide when assembled, but no single piece of the bridge can be larger than 6 inches by 4 inches by 3 feet long. At the competition, they are scored based on how fast they can assemble the bridge, how much the bridge weighs, and how much the bridge bends under a load of 2,500 pounds.
Prior to 2016, this project was always completed as part of a class. In 2016, the department chair decided that we should remove the project from the class. The students still tried to design a bridge that year, but found it to be too much work as an extracurricular project on top of their regular course work, their jobs and their daily commute to school.
This year, it happened again, until January when freshman James Blough decided he wanted to design a bridge. James comes from a family of machinists and he was confident that he could design it. The design process usually starts in September and James began on Feb. 1. James managed to design each piece of the bridge with some help from classmate Charlie Tryon and had it ready for fabrication on March 16. Unfortunately, when he finished his drawings and spoke to STS Steel in Schenectady, who typically donates the materials and labor to construct the bridge, STS had become too busy and could not fabricate the bridge on the time schedule we needed. Not giving up, James asked STS to order the materials and to cut the pieces up for him. Then James picked up the materials from STS Steel, brought them home, and with the help of his father and two brothers, they did all the welding and drilling to fabricate all the individual bridge pieces over spring break.
The bridge was brought back to campus on the Monday following spring break. Upon assembling the bridge for the first time, it failed two of the tests required of the bridge at the competition. At that time, seniors, Christian Makasi, Zachary Ogden, Nick Schindler, Evan Connolly, Will Sullivan, Charlie Tryon, and Matt Cashman helped modify the bridge to pass these tests. The team performed the final modifications two days before the competition.
These students did a fantastic job representing Hudson Valley at the competition and should be commended.