UMD Steel Bridge Team Meets Members of Congress at AISI Steel Day in DC
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Steel Bridge Team was invited to participate in American Iron and Steel Institute's "Steel Day" event, held on October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. at AISI's downtown headquarters. The event, a collaboration between AISA, the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) and the House and Senate Steel Caucuses, featured the University of Maryland's large-scale bridge model in addition to models from the University of Akron, University of Delaware and the University of California-Berkeley.
The Steel Bridge Team is part of UMD's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which also includes UMD's Concrete Canoe Team. Chapter president Tess Niehoff and members Ross Jespersen and Craig Lampmann were on hand to represent the team at the event.
Ross, a junior and current project manager for the 2014 Steel Bridge Team, said the event was a great opportunity to gain exposure for both the program and the competition. Last year, the National Student Steel Bridge Competition drew over 200 teams from across the United States, Canada and Mexico to compete.
The SteelDay 2013 event also featured remarks from Reps. Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Virginia Foxx (R-NC). Visclosky, Vice Chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus and father of a Maryland alumnus, acknowledged the UMD team in his remarks with a "Go Terps!" and spent time afterward speaking with the students.
Foxx congratulated the students on their efforts and for being involved with these kinds of projects. As a former teacher and educator, she said she "believes in experiential education."
Experiential education was exactly what attracted Niehoff to ASCE. Niehoff, a senior and current president for UMD's student chapter for ASCE, has been involved with the Concrete Canoe Team for the past three years. "I was sold on the hands-on aspects of the concrete canoe team," she said. The Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe teams often support one another at events, lending an extra set of hands, helping out and sharing resources.
Teamwork and a willingness to support each other is something that Lampmann, a junior, really appreciates about the ASCE student teams. "We're always willing to help each other out,” he said. He points out that what he has learned on ASCE teams has also helped him in the classroom. By the time he took Fundamentals of Engineering Materials, he had already been whipping up concrete mixes for the Canoe Team, and he found himself ahead in class because of this experience.
The team constructed their bridge in AISI's main office, offering visitors a chance to view the structure and meet with team members. "This is the best AISI's headquarters has ever looked!" said president and CEO of AISI Thomas Gibson. "These students are the next generation of engineers. At a time when the ASCE is giving our nation's aging infrastructure barely a passing grade, it is important that we promote strong engineering education and invest in America's deficient bridges to ensure the health of our domestic infrastructure."
The Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe teams are gearing up for the 2014 competition season. To learn more about them and the student chapter of ASCE, visit their website.
October 10, 2013