MSU team places first in timber bridge competition


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Posted: 11/1/2013


A Mississippi State student team holds top honors in a national design and construction challenge, thanks to the collaboration of two university colleges.

Civil engineering majors in the Bagley College of Engineering, with guidance from faculty in the College of Forest Resources, were overall winners of the recent 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers' National Timber Bridge Competition.

MSU's winning effort also included having the best overall and most practical designs, as well as the most use of wood products in its project.

The multiple achievements marked the first time in a decade MSU had entered the competition. This year also included teams from Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Francisco State and Temple universities.

The challenge was sponsored by Minnesota-based Bell Structural Systems, a division of the Bell Lumber and Pole Co. The promotion of wood as a bridge construction material, generation of innovative and cost-effective timber bridge design techniques and development of an appreciation of the engineering capabilities of wood were its major objectives. For more, visit

"It's a lot of fun being able to collaborate and work with the engineering students," said Rubin Shmulsky, MSU forest products department head. "I think the students learned and appreciated the production aspect of the project as much as the engineering aspect.

"Having the engineering students over here having fun, working on this project made it an enjoyable experience," Shmulsky said. "The day we load tested the bridge for strength and deflection, and had it perform well, was one of the best days."

Assistant professor Seamus Freyne, adviser of the Mississippi State chapter of ASCE, said, "So much of what we do in class is problems in textbooks. This competition is a chance for students to do some real-world projects, which they build all on their own. It's an aspect of education that supplements what we do in class."

Forest Products