CANTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A pair of Central New York students are in Carbondale, Illinois, this weekend helping the SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team try and capture a national championship.
The six-member team includes Benjamin York, a Port Byron High School graduate, and Stephen Schermerhorn who graduated from Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The American Institute of Steel Construction’s Student Steel Bridge Competition is an annual competition that challenges student teams to develop a scale-model steel bridge.
The team must determine how to fabricate their bridge and then plan for an efficient assembly under timed construction at the competition.
Bridges are then load tested and weighed. The bridge must span approximately 20 feet, carry 2,500 pounds, and must meet all other specifications of the competition rules.
Bridge aesthetics are also judged and considered in the final results of the competition.
The SUNY Canton team has been preparing since the beginning of the Fall Semester.
Schermerhorn tells NewsChannel 9, “Going into the Nationals I’m very excited, kinda scared but I’m guessing that’s normal, but I’m excited personally for it.”
York adds, “So there’s a lot of pressure, especially being the only Freshman on the team, and I’m kind of ready for it. I’ve been running for a few years so I know what pressure is.”
Their best time so far in practice is 4 minutes and 40 seconds, with no drops, nothing hitting the floor and no one stepping in the make-believe river they’re working to build across.
Friday and Saturday they put their skills to the test against other teams just like them for the chance to be champions.
Schermerhorn says, “It is nerve-racking, there is pressure but for me personally it wasn’t that bad but once you start realizing you’re shaking uncontrollably, you gotta do something really fast and you can’t mess up or else you’re going to screw the whole thing up that’s when the pressure kicks in.”
The national competition started back in 1992 with SUNY Canton capturing their only title in 2009.
This year’s competition includes perennial powerhouses like North Dakota State University, the University of California Berkley, and last year’s winner Lafayette College.
For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9