UTSA Steel Bridge Team takes first place in regional competition


Evan Batton

The UTSA Steel Bridge Team celebrates their regional competition victory in front of their bridge. They will go on to the national competition at Virginia Tech in May.

Josh Peck, News Editor

The UTSA Steel Bridge Team placed first overall at the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Regional Steel Bridge Competition on March 8 in Arlington. The team is made up of a group of UTSA civil engineering majors who use their machine shop skills, structural engineering skills and other technical and intellectual skills they learn in the classroom to compete at a high level at regional and national competitions. 

For competitions, the UTSA Steel Bridge Team is expected to design, fabricate and construct a steel bridge under a time constraint to demonstrate their civil engineering abilities. This year at the regional competition, UTSA’s team took first in the construction economy, structural efficiency, lightness, stiffness and construction speed categories.

The team has been led by captain Evan Batton, a senior civil engineering major, for the past two seasons, starting in August 2018. Batton wanted to be captain to encourage the students around him.

“[I had] a desire to guide the new members and help them advance to nationals, as the captain did my first year,” Batton said. “Seeing all the team members you helped and how they have become more confident in their role … is what makes the competition for me.”


Trinity Schaefer, a sophomore civil engineering major, is one of the Steel Bridge Team members who Batton has been leading. Schaefer described why she enjoys being a part of the UTSA Steel Bridge Team. 

I have the opportunity to apply what I learn in my classes in an exciting, amicable environment, while also learning other skills — such as welding — that I would not have had the opportunity to learn without being involved in Steel Bridge,” Schaefer said. 

Schaefer also explained how being involved in the Steel Bridge Team has contributed to her career goals.

I actually discovered my love for civil engineering through [the Steel Bridge Team],” Schaefer said. “My involvement in Steel Bridge actually earned me my first internship with Michael Baker International, where I will be learning about transportation engineering in the upcoming summer.”

To prepare for competitions, the team members build and rebuild their bridge until they feel confident.

“We try to help our team members by teaching them how the bridge is assembled and then we work on the speed, getting faster and making fewer mistakes each time,” Batton said. “This process usually takes a month, [but] this year we had less than two weeks, and I am very proud of my team and the outcome of the competition.”

Batton hopes to take the skills he’s learned as UTSA’s Steel Bridge Team captain into his future career.

“Being captain of this team has taught me many things; time management, to be more confident in my decisions and how to delegate,” Batton said. “In my future career as a naval officer, I will need all of these traits to help me succeed.”

Batton described the hopes he has for his team as they head to the 2020 National Finals, which take place May 22 and 23 at Virginia Tech.

“Last year we finished 18th out of 43 bridges at nationals,” Batton said. “My goal is to do better than that. A top-10 finish would be amazing as UTSA has never broken that threshold in our history.”