May 06, 2009 09:00 ET

Southwest MSRCD Announces 17th Annual Timber Bridge Competition Results

BROOKHAVEN, MS--(May 06, 2009) - Southwest Mississippi Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. today announced the results of it's 17th annual National Timber Bridge Competition.

Fifteen teams of students from universities across the U. S. and Canada matched wits in the recently completed 2009 National Timber Bridge Design Competition. Open to student chapters of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Forest Products Society (FPS), the competition is sponsored by forest products and engineering interests. Southwest Mississippi Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), Inc., coordinates the annual competition.

Each team designed, constructed and tested their bridges on their home campus, then submitted documentation of their activities and results to a panel of judges for review. The competition is conducted online via the Internet. Each team is required to post design drawings, test results, and project highlights on the web at

Winner of the Best Overall Design Award was Oklahoma State University ASCE (arch team). Their design consisted of three vertically-laminated Douglas fir arch trusses supporting a Southern Yellow Pine box beam deck. This entry also placed second in Best Deck, third in Best Support Structure, and second in Most Innovative. The team received cash awards totaling $1,050 for their efforts.

The second highest money winner, earning $850 in total awards, was the entry by the Orange Team of ASCE and FPS students representing Oregon State University. Their entry placed second in Best Overall Design and first place in Best Support Structure. Their design consisted of a longitudinal deck of 2x6 tongue-and-groove treated Hemlock-Fir, supported by transverse floor beams of glulam Hem-Fir, and two glulam arches of Hemlock-Fir.

The ASCE Team from U. S. Military Academy was another big winner, earning a total of $750 for their first place awards in both Best Deck and Most Practical Design. Their entry used four built-up I-Beams to support transverse floor beams and a longitudinal deck. Another first-place winner was the ASCE Team from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, winning first place in Most Innovative Design for their three-pinned, glu-laminate arch bridge. Their entry also placed second in Most Aesthetic Design. The final first-place winner was the Most Aesthetic Design bridge designed and built by the ASCE team from Ohio State University.

The entry by the ASCE team from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo placed second in Best Support Structure and third in Best Overall Design. San Francisco State University ASCE’s truss bridge placed second in Most Practical and third in Most Aesthetic, while the SFSU arch bridge place third in both Best Deck and Most Practical Design. The entry submitted by the FPS team for University of Arkansas at Little Rock earned third place in Most Innovative Design.

Additional entries in the 2009 Competition included teams from Oregon State University (Black Team-ASCE & FPS), Washington State University ASCE, Laval University (Quebec) FPS, University of Texas at San Antonio ASCE, Clarkson University, and a second ASCE team from Oklahoma State University. For a complete review of 2009 Competition Results and each individual entry including drawings and photos, go to and select from menu. Results of 1998-2008 competitions are also posted online.

The test bridges were 12.5 feet (3.8 m) long and 4.5 feet (1.4 m) wide and were loaded with a test weight of approximately 4,500 pounds. Average weight of the bridge models was 1,274 pounds (579 kg). At full loading, maximum bridge deflection ranged from 1.45 mm to 10.1 mm. Maximum allowable deflection was 9.5 mm. Percent non-wood materials in the bridges averaged 8%; maximum percent non-wood materials allowed was 25 percent, by weight. All wood members were required to be treated to AWPA standards for ground-contact.

The competition's objectives are to promote interest in the use of wood as a competitive bridge construction material, to generate innovative and cost-effective timber bridge design techniques, and to develop an appreciation of the engineering capabilities of wood among future transportation and forest products engineers.

The Competition’s success in meeting these objectives was confirmed by unsolicited statements from some of the contestants. “The project was extremely beneficial to both the design and the construction teams. This was the first wood design project for most of the students,” stated a team member from Oregon State University. The United States Military Academy team reported that, “The project allowed us to apply many of the design principles we learned in the classroom.”

A member of San Francisco State University’s ASCE Team summarized it well, "Eight different backgrounds and ethnicities all came together and faced the ups and downs of designing, scheduling, and building for half a year. The result was a beautiful bridge and 7 life-long friends for each of us. There is a big difference between designing something on paper and actually building it into something tangible. We learned about teamwork and how to depend on each other. This project allowed us to implement theoretical knowledge obtained in the course of studies while enhancing our hands-on experience. At the same time it stimulated our self esteem as we handled the responsibility of representing our school in a competition of National level.”

Following the competition, most of the bridges were placed into actual use. Laval University FPS plans to place their bridge in front of the Wood Research Center to promote the Wood Engineering program as well as the new FPS Student Chapter. Ohio State University’s bridge will find future use for pedestrians and golf carts. Oklahoma State plans to use theirs as a recruitment display for high school students interested in structural engineering. University of Texas at San Antonio plans to raffle their bridge to their ASCE professional chapter to raise money for 2010.

Contact Information:
Bennie F. Hutchins
(601) 833-5539
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Report errors to: Keith Mazer.