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Engineering students present alternative Bay Bridge designs

08 December 2004

ATTENTION: Weekend assignment desks, transportation reporters

Contact: By Sarah Yang, Media Relations
(510) 643-7741 scy@pa.urel.berkeley.edu

"Replacing the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge," a presentation by engineering students at the University of California, Berkeley, of alternative designs for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As part of a class on engineering in the real world, four finalist teams will give mock bid proposals to the audience, which will choose a winner. The event is free and open to the public.

The student presentations come as state transportation officials are deciding whether they will move forward with the current single-tower suspension design for the Bay Bridge's eastern span. Some experts have proposed a less expensive cable-stayed design for the project, which has been plagued by hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns. An announcement from the state about the bridge design is expected soon.

9 a.m. - noon, Saturday, Dec. 11

Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center, on the north side of campus.

This undergraduate course by Robert Bea, professor of civil engineering, is designed to help students understand real-life constraints on engineering projects. The students were instructed to take into account factors such as cost, environmental regulations, and politics when designing their bridge spans.

"The main focus here is getting engineering students to tackle non-engineering issues," said Bea. "We're moving students beyond diagrams and equations and into the real world."

The four teams beat out 17 others to reach Saturday's finals. Each of the finalist teams will give a 20-minute presentation outlining its design approach and load testing its scale model bridges to verify strength. Members of the audience will be given a scorecard and asked to vote on the team's performance using criteria that includes bridge performance, cost, quality and creativity, aesthetics and presentation. The winning team will receive $500.