SUNY Canton Takes Second in Regional Steel Bridge Competition


SUNY Canton earned a spot in the 2021 American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) National Student Steel Bridge Competition following a second-place regional finish.

The group of students on the SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team came in second to the University at Buffalo in the Upstate New York Regional competition. It was held for the first time as a “Compete from Campus” event, where students entered by submitting a video documenting the construction and testing of their steel bridge.

Steel bridge team poses with their regional winning bridge.

“I am proud to say that our team has persevered despite pandemic cancellations,” said SUNY Canton Instructional Support Associate Paul D. Hitchman, who serves as one of the team’s advisors. “They found a way, as virtual as it may be, to compete and succeed in this year’s competition.”

SUNY Canton students earned first place in the aesthetics category and second place in speed of construction; construction economy; and weight and efficiency. The college now is among 25 schools in the running for the national title, which will again be completed via a video entry and supplementary documentation due May 17.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology senior Stephen J. Schermerhorn of Cicero is serving as the captain of the build team. He said the team was able to construct the bridge in a little bit more than four minutes but picked up penalties for dropping pieces or tools.

SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team build captain Stephen Schermerhorn finishes a connection on the college’s 2021 entry for the American Institute of Steel Construction Student Steel Bridge Competition.

SUNY Canton Steel Bridge Team build captain Stephen J. Schermerhorn of Cicero finishes a connection on the college’s 2021 entry for the American Institute of Steel Construction Student Steel Bridge Competition. SUNY Canton won second place in the regional competition and will now be entering in the national tournament.

“We’ve been practicing continually in preparation for nationals,” Schermerhorn said. “I think we’ll see fewer, if any, mistakes along with a much quicker run time.”

AISC releases a set of rules based on a real-world scenario each fall. Students must then design a bridge that best fits the complicated parameters. The college’s bridge is fabricated on campus by Dennis Tuper, an instructional support associate for the Automotive Program and an expert welder.

Speed of construction has traditionally been SUNY Canton’s best category, and the entry is typically designed to be assembled rapidly. The students practice assembling the bridge to decrease the amount of time it takes to build it.

Once built, the students must then load the bridge with weights and measure its deflection under the careful watch of an impartial judge. Four other teams who entered this year’s regional competition were not able to complete the test due to excessive deflection.

In addition to Schermerhorn, SUNY Canton’s 2021 team includes:

  • Jaden A. Caldwell of Canton
  • Joshua E. Godbout of Lisbon
  • Dale R. Harris of Dundee
  • Darren Leblanc of Brushton
  • Tristan L. Trombley of Keeseville
  • Benjamin P. York of Auburn

In addition to Hitchman and Tuper, SUNY Canton’s team is advised by Associate Professor Adrienne C. Rygel, who teaches in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology program, Instructional Support Technician Neil A. Haney, and Lecturer Andrew Reiter. Assistant Professor Yilei Shi served as the official judge of the on-campus competition.

The steel used to construct the bridge was donated by 1991 alumnus Eric S. Tessmer, who owns Riverside Iron, LLC, Gouverneur. The team also receives support from the Canton College Foundation and the SUNY Canton’s President’s Office. 

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.