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CEE teams #1, #2

A roundup of summer competition results

CEE teams #1, #2

FLOATABLE CONCRETE: Cal’s Concrete Canoe attracts attention at nationals. The team placed second overall.

Photo Provided by CEE Department

It’s the size of a theater catwalk and weighs just 142 pounds. But the gently arched bridge — designed, built and ambitiously named “Calatrava” by CEE students — is the new heavyweight champ of collegiate bridge building. The 21-foot-long span swept a field of 42 finalists to capture top honors at the 2008 National Student Steel Bridge Competition on May 23–24. The name for this year’s entry honors noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava while demonstrating some “Cal” school pride.

The victory was UC Berkeley’s first in the contest’s 17-year history. Sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction, the elite competition attracts engineering students from around the country vying to construct the best 1:10 scale model steel bridge. This year’s event drew teams from 182 universities to regional contests that culminated in the finals at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“Everyone was really dedicated to winning,” says Raman Bhatia (B.S.’08 CEE), the 22-year-old captain of the 31-member Calatrava team. That’s no understatement: Bhatia was one of five graduating Cal seniors who skipped Commencement 2008 in favor of a trip to the finals.

The bridge won first place in the “lightness” and “structural efficiency” categories and finished second in “construction speed” and construction “economy” on its way to seizing the overall title.

Reassembled in Berkeley, Calatrava was painted blue and goes on permanent display in Davis Hall. Visit the team’s website:

— Visit to read more.

Concrete Canoe: Not only does it float, but  it rises, almost, to the top. On June 21, this CEE team took second overall out of 22  finalists at the National Concrete Canoe Competition. (Those CEE teams are hot!) Its canoe, dubbed “VoCal,” was named after Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement. The team, already regrouped, is plotting how to capture the national title next year.

Formula SAE: Cal’s newest car team gets better and better. It took its formula-style race car to 25th place out of 84 cars at the Formula SAE West competition that began on June 25 — the best it’s ever done. “We’re aiming for the top 10 next June,” says Raechel Tan, one of the team’s leaders.

SMV: Otherwise known as Cal’s gas-sipping car. The Supermileage Vehicle team didn’t finalize its vehicle in time for the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas Competition last April, but the team was back in the shop by July, discussing plans for a new car.

CalSol: The solar-powered car team withdrew from July’s North American Solar Challenge after several of the vehicle’s key systems failed, but members plan to redesign those parts this fall in order to compete in next year’s World Solar Challenge, a race across Australia.