University of Pittsburgh
May 27, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, May 28 -- Usually, people find a gully first, then build the bridge to cross it.

University of Pittsburgh engineering students did it the other way around and won three awards, including first place for "best design" in the 1999 National Timber Bridge Design Competition.

The students, seniors in Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, designed and built the 11-foot long pedestrian bridge under the supervision of professors John Oyler and Clark Mangelsdorf. The team included Joy Jones, Dan Davis, Kurt Schurer, Mark Walters, and Aaron Cox.

"Their objective was to show the rest of the academic engineering community that a 'Steel City' team could design better than anyone else, even when using an unfamiliar material like timber," said Oyler. "Now that they have achieved this objective, they need a place to put the product of their efforts."

The bridge also finished second in the categories of "most aesthetic design" and "most innovative design." The contest, in its seventh year, is sponsored by the Southwest Mississippi Resource Conservation and Development Inc. for student chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Forest Products Society. Previous winners have been from universities in traditional timber producing areas—the Pacific Northwest and the South.

The bridge has twin, circular tapered arches of yellow pine, with steel hangers supporting Eastern pine floor beams decked with 1 x 6 Radiotta pine planking. The bridge can accommodate a load of 4500 pounds.

Borough or municipal officials who need an innovative, aesthetic and well-designed bridge to span an 11-foot ravine can call Professor Oyler at

(412) 624-9871.



PHOTO EDITORS: a photograph of the bridge and its designers is available on the web at