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SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team Lands Ninth in National Competition

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A group of SUNY Canton students led the college to a ninth-place finish in the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) National Student Steel Bridge Competition.

The SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team placed fifth in construction speed, 12th in lightness, 12th in aesthetics, ninth in economy and 12th in efficiency. The team competed virtually by submitting a video entry to AISC detailing their build and load tests of the bridge.

“Only the most resilient teams survived the burdens of the pandemic and were able to follow through with a competitive team and structure,” said SUNY Canton Instructional Support Associate Paul D. Hitchman, who serves as one of the team’s advisors. “What impressed me about this year’s team is that they rallied to overcome setbacks and constructed the bridge alongside end-of-the-semester final examinations, commencement ceremonies, in addition to all of the obstacles created by COVID-19.”

The college’s team, which is largely comprised of Engineering Technology majors from multiple disciplines, previously finished 2nd in the Upstate New York Regional Competition. About 80 universities competed at the regional level across the entire U.S., of which 25 earned a spot at the national competition.

Scale model bridge entries are designed to exact specifications to fulfill a very specific need. This years’ challenge was to design and build a replacement state park bridge to be used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and equestrians.

“The design challenge had us create a skewed bridge rather than the usual symmetrical entry,” said Dale R. Harris, a 2021 graduate of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology program from Dundee. “It was a complicated challenge. We are exceptionally proud of our top-ten finish.”

Jaden Caldwell attaches a bolt to the steel bridge.
Jaden A. Caldwell, a SUNY Canton Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Canton, is one of the students who competed in the 2021 American Institute of Steel Construction National Student Steel Bridge Competition. The team finished ninth.

Each piece of the bridge is no more than an arm’s length long. When completely constructed, the structure spans more than 20 feet. It took the SUNY Canton team a little more than 4 minutes to assemble the entire structure. Once built, the students must then load the bridge with weights and measure its deflection under watch of an impartial judge.

SUNY Canton looks at the University at Buffalo as a team to beat, according to Stephen J. Schermerhorn of Cicero, who is also a 2021 Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology graduate. UB placed ahead of Canton in the regional competition and took fifth at the national level. “I’m very pleased with our overall placement, and I’m really happy we beat UB in the construction speed category.”

Benjamin York fastens a connection on the college’s steel bridge.
Benjamin P. York, a SUNY Canton Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Auburn fastens a connection on the college’s steel bridge. SUNY Canton placed ninth in the American Institute of Steel Construction National Student Steel Bridge Competition.

In addition to Harris and Schermerhorn, SUNY Canton’s team includes:

  • Jaden A. Caldwell of Canton
  • Joshua E. Godbout of Lisbon
  • Darren Leblanc of Brushton
  • Tristan L. Trombley of Keeseville
  • Benjamin P. York of Auburn

The college’s bridge is fabricated on campus by Dennis Tuper, an instructional support associate for the Automotive Technology Program and an expert welder. Faculty advisors include Associate Professor Adrienne C. Rygel, who teaches in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology program, Instructional Support Technician Neil A. Haney, and Lecturer Andrew Reiter. Assistant Professor Yilei Shi served as the official judge of the on-campus competition.

Graduating members of the SUNY Canton steel bridge team include (l to r) Stephen Schermerhorn, Joshua Godbout, and Dale Harris.
Graduating members of the SUNY Canton steel bridge team include (l to r) Stephen J. Schermerhorn of Cicero, Joshua E. Godbout of Lisbon, and Dale R. Harris of Dundee. Schermerhorn and Harris graduated from the college’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology program, and Godbout graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

The steel used to construct the bridge was donated by 1991 alumnus Eric S. Tessmer, who owns Riverside Iron, LLC, Gouverneur. The team also receives support from the Canton College Foundation and the SUNY Canton President’s Office. 

 

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 22 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.