Nine students, all members of Professor George Limbrunner's Bridge Design class, will compete in the American Society of Civil Engineers' National Steel Bridge Competition on Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29, at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
The competition, which tests the students' knowledge and skills by having them design, build and assemble a bridge that is approximately 1/10th the scale of a real structure, will pit Hudson Valley students against civil engineering students from more than 50 colleges and universities across the country.
Hudson Valley's bridge team advanced to the nationals after finishing third (behind the State University of New York at Canton and Clarkson University, but ahead of fourth-place Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in a regional competition held last month at the University at Buffalo.
This is the second time in the college's history that a team has advanced to the national competition. Hudson Valley students have been participating in the competition since 1994; a bridge team from the college first advanced to the nationals in 1998.
"The team performed superbly, and the faculty and the department are extremely proud of this significant accomplishment," said William Darling, chairman of the college's Civil Engineering Technology Department.
"Hudson Valley has shown that we can compete not only with our two year colleagues, but also with the four-year engineering schools. This is a credit to Hudson Valley, the faculty, and most importantly, the students," Darling added.
In addition to being 25 feet, 11 inches long, the bridge is 19 inches tall and three feet, 6 inches wide. Classified as a "flat bed bridge," the structure is similar to overpass bridges commonly seen on interstates or next to off ramps, according to Bridge Team Captain Daniel Farnan, a Class of 2004 graduate of the Civil Engineering Technology program.
"The bridge is a piece of art to me," said Farnan, of Stillwater. "When you say art, people think of a painting or sculpture in a museum, but there are many ways to be creative in this world and the bridge is our way."
At the competition, the students will be judged on the time it takes to assemble the bridge: the quicker, the better. In the regional competition, assembly time was 7 minutes, 36 seconds, and since then, the students have reduced that time by a minute. The bridge also will be judged on its weight and "deflection under load," which is how much, if any, the bridge bends when loaded vertically with 1.25 tons.
"This is a wonderful program. Everything I have learned here – in this class and in the program – I will take with me throughout my career and life. This class and program is the best in the Capital Region, and I am proud to have been a part of it," said Farnan, who will continue his education at the Rochester Institute of Technology this fall.
Win or lose next week, the students are proud of their accomplishment. "We are looking to do the best we can do. It is an honor for us to be able to go and compete," he added.
The bridge team's trip is being sponsored by the Faculty Student Association at Hudson Valley Community College and the Student Senate. The bridge was fabricated by General Steel Fabricators in Latham. In addition to Farnan, team members are: John Staines, Scott Older, Tim Warden, John DePaolo, Jeremy Hills, Brian McGrath, Andrew Peterson, and Peter Futerko, Ph.D. Limbrunner and Professor Peter Tolcser are the team's advisors.
Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has graduated more than 55,000 students.