BYU to host national civil engineering competition

Some of the best civil engineering students in the country will travel to BYU when it hosts the National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC) on Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28.

The top 43 teams in the nation have been invited to attend the NSSBC, which is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). On Friday, teams will display their bridges on BYU campus at the university's conference center. The actual competition will take place at the Utah Valley Convention Center in downtown Provo on Saturday.

"We are really excited (to host this event) at BYU for the first time ever," said committee member Trevor Jones, a graduate student studying civil engineering.

Students will attempt to build the most economical model bridge while meeting specified design requirements. The model bridges will be a 1:10 scale replica of the actual design. The students' models also must cross over a 6.5-foot river that will be marked on the ground. Winners are judged on the weight of the finished bridge and the amount of time it took to build.

The goal of the NSSBC is to provide civil engineering students with a comprehensive project experience that prepares them for real-world issues. It gives future engineers an opportunity to innovate, practice professionalism, work in teams, project management, and use structural steel efficiently.

"The steel bridge competition gives our students the chance to see a project all the way through design, construction, and loading, and to be able to compare their bridge with those designed by top students from around the country," said Paul Richards, BYU associate professor of civil engineering. "That type of experience is more valuable than anything we can give them in class. Hosting the national competition at BYU is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

According to the mission of the ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition, the NSSBC is meant to supplement the education of civil engineering students and provide them with a comprehensive, student-driven project experience. In order to better prepare students for professional careers, emphasis is placed on designing a steel structure that meets client specifications and optimizes performance and economy.

Volunteers are needed at the competition for various tasks such as reception, traffic control, runners, and being a bridge marshal. Lunch and t-shirts will be provided for those that donate their time. Students that want to volunteer should send an email to For more information about the competition, see the schedule of events.   

Return to College News page.