San Francisco State UniversityA-ZSearchCalendarNeed help?News

SF State News
SF State News Home
SFSU in the News
Events Calendar
Gator Sports News

Expert commentary
Expert Commentary 1
Expert Commentary 2
Expert Commentary 3

For Journalists
News Releases
Faculty Experts
Public Affairs Staff

For Faculty
Submit a News Item
Be an Expert Source
Working with the  Media

SFSU Publications
SFSU Magazine

Public Affairs

The arch that triumphed

May 26, 2005

Photo of the award-winning redwood bridgeSFSU students recently competed blueprint to blueprint with budding civil engineers from other universities -- including the U.S. Military Academy, University of Texas and Virginia Tech -- to emerge as No. 1 in the overall design in a national wooden bridge design contest sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Led by senior Thomas Richardson, the team included Catherine Stout, Jim Chilton, Bopha Sok, Faris Salfiti and Rana Bayadi.

Wenshen Pong, associate professor of civil engineering and faculty adviser on the project, said that two designs by SFSU students made the final competition between 12 bridges from schools all over the United States. The finalists were selected from online competition. Each team designed, constructed and tested their bridge on its home turf and submitted documentation and results to a panel of judges made up of professionals from engineering, construction and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

When the time came for the finalists to meet over a bridge-to-bridge competition held in Sacramento, SFSU was the only school represented by two teams in the top 10. A bridge with a truss structure designed by an SFSU team advised by engineering Professor Norman Owen took fourth place in overall design.

Members of the arch bridge team said their goal was to design a "structure which combined strength with beauty." While the arch is one of the oldest design concepts in nature, an arch bridge made of redwood posed significant challenges.

"We used a young wood called Clear Heart California redwood and we were able to cut that into thin strips," Chilton said. Twelve layers of these strips were placed one on top of the other and held together by wood screws and adhesive. The layers were bent over an engineered plywood form and allowed to cure for seven days, after which the structure was sanded and laminated. The end trusses, decking, curbs, stringers and floor beams were constructed from Douglas fir. The team used a composite for the floor beams and steel rods, cables, brackets and tension fixtures to complete the design.

Each member of the team brought different skills to the project, ranging from carpentry to data management. Team leader Richardson said that the "construction opportunities made the team very close as a group."

Salfiti said the experience was one of "people coming together from all different walks of life to establish a connection that will never be forgotten."

Sok said, "To take a concept and create it physically gave me a great sense of accomplishment and inspiration."

Stout added that she "never felt so connected and attached to a project ... with only six minds, we created something that was not only beautiful, but very structurally sound."

According to Civil Engineering program head Elahe Enssani, this was the first time SFSU has placed first in the overall competition which is sponsored by Weyerhaeuser Company. "We are a small program compared to most of the other finalists," she said, "but this honor guarantees that SFSU’s reputation for civil engineering will continue to grow."

The winning bridge and the fourth place finisher were on exhibit at the May 6 Science and Engineering Showcase and is now on display near the quad-side entrance to the Science and Engineering Building.

-- Denize Springer


San Francisco State University

Home     Search     Need Help?    

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132    (415) 338-1111
Last modified May 26, 2005 by University Communications