Haskell supported the University of North Florida team that competed March 21-23, 2024, in the AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition at the ASCE Southeast Regional Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The team is pictured on their bridge, which placed second in the aesthetics category. Pictured on the front beam, from left, are John McKenzie, Brandon Cleveland and Luc Cherisol. On the rear beam, from left, are Katlynne Peralta, Isabella Tamada and Rushton Roberts.

March 27, 2024

Precision and Beauty: UNF Team Creates Successful Bridge Design

Learn how UNF engineering students, with help from Haskell Steel, balanced aesthetics and structural integrity in the AISC steel bridge competition.


With an assist from Haskell Steel, a team of senior civil engineering students from the University of North Florida (UNF) took part March 21-24, 2024, in the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Student Steel Bridge Competition (SSBC) on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, placing second in the aesthetics category and sixth overall.

The competition, which featured 12 teams and was held at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Southeast Regional Symposium, served as the UNF students’ civil engineering capstone project for the fall and spring semesters. Three of the students are present or past Haskell interns. Current intern Katlynne Peralta will join Haskell’s Structural Engineering team full-time upon graduation.

Katlynne Peralta, a Haskell Structural Engineering intern who will join the company full time upon graduation, discusses the competition with UNF teammate John McKenzie.

“Most of the (UNF) team is interested in structural engineering, so this was a really good opportunity for us to learn about design,” Peralta said. “We got to communicate with the steel shop and learn more about getting a design on paper and then actually built in real life.”

The competition required each team to design and construct a 20-foot scale model of a bridge. The rules strictly defined the materials used, the sizes of members and the construction method. Each team’s bridge was scored on aesthetics, weight, strength and construction time. 

UNF team members chose a double-girder design for their stringers and modeled the bridge in RAM Elements, a 3D structural analysis and design application. They subjected it to all six possible load cases listed in the competition rules and, when the model showed minimal deflection, contacted Haskell to start the fabrication process.

“Haskell Steel was a huge help for us,” Peralta said. “They were more than willing to answer all our questions, discuss design alternatives with us and let us come by the shop to see the process. We want to give a shoutout to Touan Plante, Josh Edge, Bill Thompson, Craig Capps, Rocky Wortham and everyone else who has been a part of this process with us. Haskell Steel was generous with their time and resources, and we are extremely grateful.”

On Day 1 of the competition, all teams built their bridges for display with accompanying posters describing the design and were judged on aesthetics. They then broke down the bridges for Day 2’s timed build supervised by judges, who penalized construction rules violations and timed the building process. Faced with a 45-minute time limit, the UNF built its structure in 27:32, their best time ever. Judges then inspected the bridge’s measurements and connections and approved it for load testing.

First, a 50-pound lateral load was applied. A sway exceeding three-quarters of an inch would have been disqualifying, but the UNF team’s bridge experienced no lateral deflection at all. Next, vertical loads were applied in two locations, one 1,500 pounds and the other 1,000 pounds. The total combined deflection could not exceed 3 inches, and the UNF bridge experienced a combined deflection of just 1.23 inches.

“We are very pleased with our performance,” Peralta said.

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