MIT team finds that the ratio of component atoms is vital to performance.
A team of eight undergraduates in civil and environmental engineering won the award for fastest construction and took second place overall in the regional Steel Bridge Competition held March 16-17 at the University of Connecticut, earning a chance to compete at the national competition May 25 and 26 at California State University, Northridge.
Five people on the MIT team took just under seven minutes to assemble their 32-piece bridge in the competition. Judges scored teams on constructability, usability, stiffness, construction speed, efficiency, economy and looks. Teams transported their bridge prototypes in pieces, assembled them at the competition and then applied a 2,500-pound load. The lowest score won.
Junior Tracy Takemura, president of the MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Association, said the team "learned a lot about how we can improve upon our bridge. We had overdesigned our lateral strength, so we will be minimizing cross-bracings to decrease overall weight. We can also cut down on builders--to have four total--to cut builder costs."