2018 Competition Guide


Welcome & Introduction

Rules & Clarifications

Scoring Spreadsheet

General Competition Information

Design Tips

Eligibility Requirements
Paper Competition
Business Meeting

Judges Training Meeting

Team Captain Meeting

Display Judging

Site Layout



Post Construction

Lateral Load Test

Vertical Load Tests
- Loading Devices
- Deflection Measurement
- Sway Measurement

Bridge Weight

Data Entry

History & Results


General Competition Information

This web site provides instructions for conducting a Student Steel Bridge Competition and is intended to be used by competitors, hosts, and judges. It is a companion to the Rules document that describes the competition and states the official rules.


AISC provides limited funding for the competition (primarily to hosts and stipends for teams invited to the national competition) but competitors and hosts generally solicit additional support from a variety of sponsors. The following types of organizations are most likely to make donations: your college or university, chapters of engineering societies, trade associations, design firms, and companies with an interest in producing, supplying, fabricating or erecting structural steel. Entry fees are often charged by host chapters to close the gap between the cost of hosting the competition and what they are able to raise from sponsors.


The host recruits judges who will be fair, unbiased and competent. Steel fabrication companies are good sources of judges. Structural engineers and erectors also make good judges. It is highly recommended that at least one judge with past judging or competition experience be recruited. There should be more than one judge, with one appointed as head judge. For the national competition, selection of judges is a joint responsibility of AISC and the host ASCE chapter.

ASCE student conference competitions may recruit and train as many judges as they feel necessary to run the competition. At the national competition there are typically four judges per erection lane, one judge (with two or three assistants) per loading bay and one judge in the weighing area. Display judging is normally conducted by a committee of three or more judges.

Judges should have copies of, and be familiar with the Rules document, and clarifications to the rules. All are available at the AISC website. They should also review this web site.

The host should arrange a meeting of judges at least a day before the contest. This meeting typically consists of an overview of the rules, common violations, and techniques for determining compliance with the rules. It is useful for the host to erect their bridge for the committee so that judges can practice taking measurements. At the national competition this meeting tends to last around three hours.


It is the responsibility to competitors to design, fabricate and compete with a bridge that meets all the requirements of the rules and meet the needs of the client. The client, in this case, is the Rules Committee. Their need is articulated in section 3 of the rules.

Competitors should realize that hosts and judges are volunteers and are a part of this competition as a service to the competitors. Many are giving up valuable work and/or vacation time in addition travel costs to be there. Many of the judges are less familiar with the rules than are the competitors. Competitors are strongly encouraged to be patient, collegial, professional, and ethical in their interactions with judges and hosts.


Judges share responsibility for safety with the host and competitors. Judges are directed and empowered to halt any activities they deem hazardous (Section 5 of the 2013 rules). Judges should insist that competitors wear the safety equipment specified in the Rules (see rules 10.1.10, 10.2.1, and 11.2).

Judges must use the current official rules and the official clarifications for the competition without modification or addition.

Judges have complete and final authority for enforcing the rules of the contest, scoring and rating bridges, resolving ambiguities in the rules and settling disputes. Procedures for resolving protests are described in the Rules document (Section 15).

Before the judges' organizational meeting, each judge should carefully study this website, the current Rules, and should consult the AISC website for official interpretations of the rules. Copies of the Rules also may be downloaded from that site.

The judges' organizational and training meeting should be held at least one day before the competition. Questions regarding rules and procedures should be discussed and resolved at this meeting. In addition, the duties of each judge should be defined. The judges should be prepared to answer questions and resolve disputes that may arise during the competition.

Judges are reminded that competitors have invested significant amounts of time and money in their bridges. They will expect judges to make accurate measurements, keep careful records, compute scores and ratings accurately, understand and enforce the Rules, and to be fair in all decisions. In particular, penalties should be handled with due regard to the relative seriousness of the infraction and fairness to all competitors. Interactions with competitors must be collegial and professional regardless of how the competitors may present themselves.

The required scoring spreadsheet is available on this web site. This spreadsheet contains judging forms that will help ensure thorough enforcement of the rules. While the spreadsheet has been tested, there may still be bugs in the system. Judges should run their own check of the spreadsheet to verify it's accuracy. Please contact the ssbc.results@gmail.com as soon as possible if an error are found.


The rules changed EVERY year and, therefore, are different from every other year; the current Rules document should be studied carefully. The current rules must be used without modification or addition. This is necessary so that bridges from all ASCE student conferences may compete nationally without disqualification or disadvantage. The official rules govern if there is a conflict between the rules and any other document.


See the section on site layout provided on this web site. Good site layout is essential to a successful competition.


At the National competition, Marshals are used to escort bridges through the complete erection and testing sequence. The duties of the Marshals are to carry the judging forms from station to station, ensure that the bridge is not altered or enhanced after the erection phase, note damage to bridge as it is moved, and to assist the data entry people in resolving any questions regarding the completed judging forms. It is strongly encouraged that the student conferences have a similar system in place.

The responsibilities of the Marshals at the National Competition: Marshal Responsibilities.docx


Judges should be provided with data sheets for recording all raw data (deflections measurements, construction time, penalties, etc.). The data is transferred to the provided Excel scoring spreadsheet for making all the competition scoring computations; the spreadsheet may be downloaded from this site. In addition to computing the results, the provided spreadsheet includes forms for judges to use the day of the competition. The final spreadsheet must be sent to the rules committee at the conclusion of the competition in order for invitations to the National competition to be extended.


Plan a realistic schedule for the competition and try to maintain it. The number of competitors has a major effect on scheduling. If the number of competitors is very large, it may be advisable to have several load testing areas and several construction areas.

The competition may be expedited by having separate stations for checking components, construction, display, and load testing. At least one judge is needed at each station--in some cases you'll need three or four. You may also need non-judge assistants to aid in setting up and conducting the testing. Bridges are carried from station to station by the teams so that the stages of the competition are conducted simultaneously for several bridges.


AISC provides nine plaques (first, second and third place overall, and first places in the six categories of competition), financial support for the host, and stipends for each participating team. ASCE provides monetary awards at the national level.


As soon as possible, the host should inform potential competitors of the date and location of the competition and of estimated entry fees, if any.

Well in advance of the competition, the host should send competitors a description of the equipment that will be used, including the type of load, type of safety support, dimensions of the construction area (if different from the regulation dimensions) and description of decking (if the regulation decking is not used).

The host should provide each competitor with a schedule of events, map to the contest site and lodging recommendations.

The AISC website lists answers to questions about the rules. Competitors, judges and host personnel may submit questions via a form on that web site but should first read the previously posted clarifications and reread this Rules booklet carefully in its entirety. The names of students and their universities will be posted with their questions.

At the beginning of competition, the judges should meet with the captains to review the rules and answer questions (this meeting is commonly called the Team Captain's meeting).