Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Six civil engineering majors are creating a steel bridge model that will be entered in the annual National Steel Bridge Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction.

The team leader is Jon Christie, a junior from Hawthorne, N.J. Also participating are juniors Jaeyoung Jang (Cochabamba, Bolivia), Fernando Luna (Managua, Nicaragua), Nate Tyson (Easton, Pa.), and Peter Totev (Oberursel, Germany), and sophomore Jeremiah O’Neill (North Andover, Mass.).

The students will design, fabricate, and construct a steel bridge that spans 25 feet over a mock river while supporting 2,500 pounds of total load. With strict limits on the sizes and types of components that can be used, they will design the bridge to be as lightweight, strong, and easily constructed as possible. Their first competition will be a regional event April 26 in Doylestown, Pa.

Their adviser is Stephen Kurtz, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, who teaches the Introduction to Structures course that civil engineering majors typically take in their junior year.

“We’re utilizing a lot of things we learned in the structures class to make an efficient bridge that will fulfill the competition requirements,” says Christie. “Professor Kurtz taught a good class and gave us the background we needed. We’re as well prepared as students can be, but this still requires a lot of thinking and on-the-job learning.”

“I’m interested in structural design,” says O’Neill. “I got involved in this project because I thought it would be fun, interesting, and a good learning experience. Since we are building a smaller model of a big bridge, I’m learning real-life skills that will help me in the future.”

The students are now beginning the design phase (and some members plan to sacrifice part of their spring break to work on it). They have practiced welding prototype bridge components. Kurtz is helping the students learn how to weld effectively and master techniques for building parts.

“This is a great way to learn,” says Christie, who plans to pursue a career as a structural engineer. “The heavy interaction between professors and students is definitely a strength here. Prof. Kurtz is very enthusiastic. He’s really into the material and brings it alive.

“A good professor helps you learn a lot in class, but there’s nothing like hands-on experience to see what works or breaks,” Christie adds, noting that Lafayette’s engineering labs were a major reason he chose to attend the College.

“When I visited this school and others, I felt the facilities were far superior here, and I haven’t been disappointed,” he says. “I think it’s important to do things hands-on and see how they work.”

“At Lafayette, civil engineering students get a lot of hands-on experience,” adds O’Neill. “We learn principles in the classroom and then apply what we’ve learned in real-world situations.”

Christie has worked in land surveying at Boswell Engineering in South Hackensack, N.J., during his last four summer breaks and three winter breaks. “When you get outside, you learn how things relate to each other,” he says. “It’s the absolute basics of civil engineering, a good foundation to have.”

Christie is president of Lafayette’s chapter of American Society of Civil Engineering, public relations officer for Asian Cultural Association, and a member of International Students Association.

Categorized in: Academic News