Timber Strong Gives Engineering Students Real-World Experience

Structural engineering, like every other research field, advances by educating new generations of students in the principles and practice of the discipline. Knowing that, Simpson Strong-Tie has teamed with the Binational Softwood Lumber Council and the American Wood Council to co-sponsor and coordinate the Timber Strong Design-Build Competition, an annual design contest held at the ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference in Tempe, Arizona.
Engineering students will test their civil and environmental engineering skills this spring when they compete in the annual Timber Strong Design-Build Competition. Eighteen universities will send teams of students to Tempe, Arizona, to participate at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC).
The objective of the competition, taking place April 12–14, is to give students valuable real-world engineering design experience:

“…teams will prepare a project bid complete with a preliminary design, budget estimates, structural calculations and estimated carbon footprint. They’ll be expected to incorporate sustainability features such as rainwater capture systems or solar paneling on the rooftops. Teams will assemble their structure in real time within a 15′ x 15′ area and receive additional points for the fastest construction. Each entry will undergo a stress test.”

Simpson Strong-Tie™ is co-sponsoring the competition for the third time, alongside the Binational Softwood Lumber Council and Bosch Power Tools. This year, Simpson will donate up to $200 in materials for each team taking part in the competition, BSLC is providing$200 travel stipends and Bosch will supply cordless drills, screw guns and bits. The American Wood Council is coordinating the event.

Real-World Applications

Nearly 1500 civil and engineering students from universities in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii compete at PSWC each year. Not only do those students gain hands-on experience, but they also help provide new insight into the real-world problems they will be facing as practicing professionals.
Tempe’s affordability and predictable climate are making it a popular destination for technology companies and startups. According to the East Valley Tribune, “Tempe had the highest tech rent growth of any submarket in the US over the past two years, at just under 30 percent.”
Job growth means a greater demand for housing and nonresidential building. That’s where the Timber Strong competition can play a role. Timber Strong’s sponsors are interested in using wood to develop sustainable housing for Tempe’s booming population. The competition’s white paper explains:

“While other natural resources are rapidly depleting due to this [housing] demand, wood is the only building material that grows naturally and is 100% renewable and outperforms other building materials in overall carbon footprint reduction.”

With greater growth, the importance of developing greater sustainability in our building and living practices only increases. That’s why wood engineering is so key to a sustainable future.
Simpson Strong-Tie is excited to support this important conference. We’ll post results from the competition on our Structural Engineering Blog.

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