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WVU competes in regional civil engineering competition

Members of the Steel Bridge Competition

Members of the Steel Bridge Competition team  (pictured left to right)  Nathan Barnhart, Jed Bratcher, Andrew Delisle, Megan Mills, Ben Sprague and Ben Opie. (Submitted Photo)

Members of West Virginia University’s student chapter of the  American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and  American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) competed in the annual ASCE Virginia’s Conference held at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, on April 6-9 following a two year hiatus caused by COVID-19.

Story by Olivia Miller, Communications Specialist


WVU’s six-member team captured second place in the Steel Bridge Competition. The bridge design followed a strict set of standards and guidelines set by the national organization. This year, the bridge had to have a cantilever portion. There were also strict parameters for length of the bridge, width, height and clearance. 

“The biggest challenge we faced as a team was the learning curve for the whole process,” said Megan Mills, AISC president. “There were very few students returning from previous years. Everyone that joined was eager to learn and people found their niche on where they performed best.”

According to Mills, it has been a busy year preparing for the competition. Members began teaching new students to operate machinery in August; the design work started in September and ran until December; and they started building the bridge in January to prepare for April’s competition. 

Mills urged other students to considering joining AISC, emphasizing that the club also has social and professional networking events throughout the school year. 

“Steel bridge is always welcoming new members, both in and out of civil engineering,” Mills continued. “No one has to have any prior experience; we will gladly teach anyone the machinery or design work.”

The annual conference presents a wide variety of unique technical challenges and opportunities for students to showcase their practical applications of engineering principles learned in the classroom—challenging students’ knowledge, creativity and stamina.

Despite many challenges and setbacks, the team of 14 ASCE members placed first in the concrete bowling ball competition and second in the t-shirt design, scavenger hunt, and engineering trivia contests. 

Unfortunately, ASCE was not able to compete in the infamous concrete canoe competition this year. The canoe’s concrete mix was not thoroughly tested, resulting in the canoe crumbling when the students brought it out of the mold for competition. 

“Although we could not officially compete this year, we still brought out a six-year-old concrete canoe and raced against the other schools,” said ASCE President Israel Torres. “I believe it was important that our members still went, regardless of the circumstances. These awards are significant because despite taking two years off the competition because of COVID-19, we still managed to go through every stage of canoe construction and relearn everything that needed to be done. 

Torres also received the 2022 Stafford E. Thornton Outstanding Senior Award and is optimistic about next year’s competition.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135