UB ASCE steel bridge team finishes in the top 15 nationally

UB ASCE advisors and students hold plaque during National Steel Bridge Competitio.

From left to right: UB ASCE mentor practitioner Lawrence Mathews, Camila Lopez-Ruiz, UB ASCE advisor John Gast, and Andrew Meyerhofer

By Peter Murphy

Published June 5, 2018

The UB American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) student club earned 12th place overall at the National Student Steel Bridge Competition.

“They gel together so well. There are no egos, and everyone cooperated. We had great leadership with the steel bridge team.”
Lawrence Mathews, Senior Structural Engineer
Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.

UB’s team traveled to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to participate in the ASCE and American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)-sponsored competition. UB’s team secured a spot at nationals after finishing in second place overall at the Upstate New York regional conference last month.

The team returns to the national ranking after a brief absence in 2017. Prior to last year, UB’s team earned one of the top spots every year since 2013.

“UB did well again, but other schools are getting better and better,” says Lawrence Mathews, a senior structural engineer at Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., and mentor practitioner to UB ASCE, “the key was teamwork and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.”

In addition to finishing in 12th place, the team competed well in each of the competition’s subcategories. UB’s team was the 10th fastest to put its bridge together and earned 11th place in bridge stiffness and efficiency. Teams from 42 colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada and China competed in the event.

Entire steel bridge team, including ASCE president stand outside of building on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus during national competition.

UB ASCE steel bridge team

“It’s great to be able to represent and highlight what UB can do in terms of engineering,” says Camila Lopez-Ruiz, a graduating civil engineering student and one of the steel bridge project managers, “over the past couple of years, we have been able to establish ourselves as a highly competitive team. The ranking allows us to show younger members the dedication and passion needed to continue a legacy that began before us and will hopefully continue long after.”

Mathews, who has worked with UB ASCE for about 10 years noted the chemistry of this year’s steel bridge unit before and during the national conference. “They gel together so well. There are no egos, and everyone cooperated. We had great leadership with the steel bridge team.”

This year’s steel bridge team and UB ASCE were younger compared to previous years. Several members of the club’s executive board and one of the steel bridge project managers were juniors. “The team and club hope to carry this momentum into next year,” says one of the steel bridge project managers Andrew Meyerhofer, “A lot of us will be returning as seniors next year, and with it being our final year, we hope to perform just as well; if not better than this year.”

Current UB ASCE president, Zachary Vacek, will return next year as the club’s vice president. UB ASCE’s success helped give him a perspective about civil engineering and what it takes to be successful. “In this industry, passion is everything. You have to love what you do, and more importantly, the people you work with,” he says, “I honestly don’t think we would have performed as well if it weren’t for those qualities the team possess.”