LOWELL -- Students who attend UMass Lowell participated for the first time in the championship round of a national engineering competition that asked them to design and build a model of a steel bridge.

Gregory McNeal, of Shirley, majoring in civil engineering, was a member of the UMass Lowell team that placed 14th among 49 collegiate teams in the final round of the 2013 Steel Bridge Competition held at the University of Washington in Seattle last month.

Sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction, the competition asked student teams from across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to design and fabricate a scale model of a steel bridge, then build it on site.

To advance to the championship round, the UMass Lowell team placed third in the competition's regional finals. Teams in both rounds were judged on how quickly they could assemble their bridge, its structural efficiency, economy, lightness and stiffness, and the quality of a presentation about their work.

The bridge built by the UMass Lowell team spanned 15 feet, 10.5 inches, weighed 104 pounds and could support 2,500 pounds of distributed weight. Its 39 sections were held together by 66 bolts. In the championship round, team members assembled the entire bridge in less than 11 minutes.

"We are fairly new to this competition, so it felt really good to be able to compete.


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We did exceptionally well and we are very pleased with our results," said Ross Gladstone, who served as the UMass Lowell team's student leader.

The 19-person team was advised by UMass Lowell faculty members Susan Faraji, who teaches structural engineering, and Paul DeStefano of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

On the web: http://meritpages.com/achievements/Shirley-resident-competes-in-national-steel-bridge-championship/7019100.