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Published on May 23, 2019
Eighteen teams from colleges throughout the southwestern United States and Hawaii gained hands-on experience in wood design and construction during the second annual Timber-Strong Design Build competition. AWC joined APA-The Engineered Wood Products Association (APA) and Simpson Strong-Tie to organize and sponsor the competition, which was held in April at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers 2019 Pacific Southwest Conference. AWC’s Senior Director of Education Michelle Kam-Biron, P.E., and Angel Leon, Training Specialist/Outreach Coordinator for Simpson Strong-Tie, spearheaded the event. During the competition, each team had one and a half hours to construct a tiny 4’ x 6’ house using lightweight wood-frame construction. Along with building the structure, each team had to submit a report containing a material cost analysis, life cycle assessment calculation, and a structural design to resist lateral and gravity loads. Teams were also required to give a short presentation on their structure. The event was judged by nine volunteers who assessed the team’s reports, timed and observed construction, watched the presentations, and evaluated each team. While some teams constructed their house in as little as 77 seconds, others took the allotted 90 minutes. With only a simple drawing provided, the creativity and innovation illustrated by these students during the construction process was impressive. Some houses even included amenities such as asphalt shingles, a green roof, live plants, and painted themes. At the end of the day, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo team from the Civil Engineering department finished first overall, followed by the University of Arizona and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). This competition will help educate the next generation of engineers on the ease and benefits of wood design and construction. AWC is actively involved in planning a national competition which will be hosted this fall at the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations annual summit in Anaheim.