Students affiliated with the American Society of Civil Engineers club (ASCE) spend their time working on a project that lasts longer than the average one semester’s undertaking.

Andrew LaRosa, senior, represented the University of Rhode Island at the National Student Steel Bridge Competition this past weekend at Merrimack College in Andover, Mass..

A member of the ASCE, LaRosa was the leader of a team of students at the competition. It was the first time someone has represented the university at the annual competition in 21 years. “I attended the competition last year and I decided I wanted to do it,” LaRosa said.

The 20-foot long bridge required about a year of planning before the competition. LaRosa said that he started planning and designing the bridge at the beginning of last semester. Different people associated with the competition were assigned to build it, design it and fabricate it. “I drew up the blueprints for it and one of my friends from home welded the bridge for me,” he said.

After the planning and designing of the bridge, the different pieces are welded and prepared for the date of the competition. On the day of the competition, members of the team bring the bridge disassembled and must be prepared to put them together in a timely manner. Contestants are judged on how long it takes them to put the pieces together along with how sturdy the bridge is by putting weights on it.

According to the American Institute of Steel Construction NSSBC rules, students are encouraged to fabricate the entire bridge on their own. However, the rules acknowledge the fact that not every university provides students with shop facilities and supervision, so participants are allowed to use the services of a commercial fabricator.

LaRosa’s plan after graduating college is to be a construction manager and has the job already lined up for him. He said that he did not expect to do as well as they did in the competition.

“I thought it was awesome,” said LaRosa. “I saw the competition last year and I kind of wanted to do something different and at least start something so next year hopefully we can improve on it. I think it’s pretty cool if I started something like that.”

The ASCE focuses on one event, the Concrete Canoe National Competition, where they make a canoe out of concrete and race it in the water. LaRosa said that is the main event that ASCE focuses on and plans to do well in it this year. According to LaRosa, although the National Student Steel Bridge Competition is just a side thing that the ASCE does, he hopes someone will continue it in the future.