Cloquet student leads team to national competitionNathaniel Schulz, a 2010 graduate of Cloquet High School, is the co-captain of Michigan Technological University’s Steel Bridge competition team, which competed in the 2013 National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 31 and June 1 at the University of Washington-Seattle.
Nathaniel Schulz, a 2010 graduate of Cloquet High School, is the co-captain of Michigan Technological University’s Steel Bridge competition team, which competed in the 2013 National Student Steel Bridge Competition May 31 and June 1 at the University of Washington-Seattle. The team claimed fourth place overall behind the University of California-Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California-Davis.
The MTU team qualified for nationals by finishing second at regionals in April, and was seeded 26th for national competition among 49 teams from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Society of Civil Engineers, the contest challenges future civil engineers to display their skills in steel design, steel fabrication and teamwork. Students are required to design and build their product from scratch according to new specifications each year. After converting their design to shop drawings, teams build the structure piece by piece. This year, the team managed to complete their project in two months, after moving into new shop space and installing new equipment.
“We do all the fabrication ourselves, so you learn to weld, grind, and do all sorts of interesting things that are not usually offered through the coursework,” said Schulz.
Bridges are judged on a variety of qualities, including lightness, construction economy, structural efficiency, construction speed, appearance, and various measures of strength and stability.
This year, MTU’s bridge was 16 feet long and 31 inches tall. Students had to fabricate modular units, or members, that can fit in a box measuring 3 feet by 6 inches by 4 inches. The members are then assembled into the bridge on site by three team members, including Schulz.
“That’s our challenge, to design the bridge around those constraints and others,” Schulz said. “We also have to build it as quickly as possible, because that comes into play with how economical they would be.”
MTU’s team placed fourth at nationals in 2012 as well.
Schulz, son of Scott and Julie Schulz of Cloquet, is majoring in civil engineering and will be a senior at Michigan Tech this fall.