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The 2012 Steel Roos chmpionship team

Roos of Steel -- Again

Steel Bridge Team earns fifth regional title in seven years

In the scholastic Super Bowl of civil engineering, UMKC is a true dynasty.

What else would you call a team that wins five regional championships in the span of seven years?

The “Steel Roos” of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering are a

dominant force in the Student Steel Bridge Competition sponsored annually by the American Institute of Steel Construction. By winning another title at the institute’s Mid-Continent Regional Conference last month at the University of Nebraska, the Steel Roos will move on to the AISC Steel Bridge Nationals May 25-26, 2012 at Clemson University.

Jerry R. Richardson, associate professor of civil and mechanical engineering, serves as faculty advisor to the team along with assistant professor John Kevern. Richardson takes no credit for the long string of success the Steel Roos have enjoyed.

“A lot of it has to do with our students. It shows the dedication of our students to their craft and their vocation; and it speaks to the commitment of the school itself to provide a very comprehensive undergraduate experience,” Richardson said. “We see this competition as an important learning experience for our students, and a way to demonstrate that our students are as good as anyone in the country.” 

About 50 teams compete in the nationals each year; in 2009, UMKC placed in the top 10 teams in the country.

In steel bridge competitions, students are provided with a set of specifications including height, weight, length and load-bearing capacity. They must first design, and then build by hand, a bridge that meets those specifications. Entries are judged by how well the bridge meets standards for Construction Speed, Stiffness, Lightness, Efficiency, Economy and Display. In addition to posting the best overall score at this year’s regional, the Steel Roos took first place in the Construction Speed, Stiffness, Lightness and Efficiency categories.

The design work and some preliminary cutting and welding of the steel parts takes place over the course of the semester, but the bridge has to be built on site during the competition – with a timer running.

The team must predict, via calculations, the measured deflection of the load placed on the bridge during the competition. At the regional, the Roos’ actual deflection matched exactly their analytical predictions. 

One of the judges for this year’s competition, Jacob V. Goecke, a design engineer for Kiewit Engineering in Omaha, later wrote a letter to the school congratulating the team on their efforts.

“I was very impressed by the bridge’s design and quality of fabrication. The design was elegant, efficient, and fabricated to a high standard of quality,” Goecke wrote.

Two seniors, Kyle Dunning and Isaac Smogie, are co-leaders of the team of juniors and seniors that also includes Kevin Buck, Taylor Christmas, Huy Dao, Jessica Everhart, Jade Rodell, Spencer Solon, Jessica Sturgess and Christy Wilson.

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"It shows the dedication of our students to their craft and their vocation; and it speaks to the commitment of the school itself to provide a very comprehensive undergraduate experience."

Jerry R. Richardson
associate professor of civil and mechanical engineering

Steel Roos in the heat of competition