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Getting Schooled on Bridge Building

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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Students at the University of Miami are getting first-hand knowledge of the science of bridge building and materials performance as they actively participate in the construction of a pedestrian bridge on their own campus.

Graduate students at the University of Miami are getting hands-on training with the construction of a bridge on campus.

The team of graduate students are working under their professor, department of civil engineering chair Antonio Nanni, and Moss Construction to increase the efficiency of the construction, The Miami Hurricane reported Aug. 23.

Nanni himself is a researcher of construction materials and their structural performance, and the students taking part in the project include Ph.D. candidates in architecture as well as civil engineering.

New Materials, Traditional Solutions

The bridge will make use of a of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) material researched in the Structures and Materials lab at UM’s college of Engineering.

The FRP is meant to take the place of traditional steel reinforcements within concrete.

One of the advantages they see to this material is that it’s very light when compared to steel. This contributes efficiency to the use of manpower.

“[One guy] can pick up a one-inch thick bar,” construction manager Kyle Conroy told the Hurricane. “Normally, it takes like three guys to pick up a bar if it’s steel.”


The campus bridge makes use of a of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) material researched in the Structures and Materials lab at UM’s college of Engineering.

The FRP will also reduce the effects of corrosion on the bridge, as it lacks the corrosive properties of steel.

There will still be a steel element to the new bridge on campus, however. The FRP is not meant to support the bridge, and steel beams will do that work.

“What’s holding up the bridge for the most part are those giant steel beams that go through the center of it,” Conroy said. “What the FRP is doing is holding the concrete together.”

About the Project

According to the Hurricane, preconstruction of the bridge began in January 2015 and the actual work began in late May. The project is expected to wrap up by the end of September 2015.

On completion, it will measure approximately 13 feet in width and run 211 feet in length.

“Deploying the technology we have been working on in our laboratory during the last decade gives credibility to the efforts and accomplishments of our students and faculty,” Nanni told the Hurricane, “and, as importantly, shows the relevance of UM in addressing the sustainability challenges we face as a society.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Corrosion protection; Corrosion resistance; Education; Steel; Structural steel; Tensile strength

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