Utah State University students build mobile bridge, win contest

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jul 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-22 00:22:08-04

LOGAN, Utah – Students at Utah State University have developed a mobile bridge that may help soldiers in the field, and the project won a nationwide competition held at an Air Force base in Florida.

Seven mechanical and aerospace engineering students built BAMBI, which stands for Break Apart Mobile Bridging Infiltration.

USU student Tasha Davis said the project was time-consuming.

"We spent hours together designing and coming up with different ideas for our bridge, and then we also spent hours together building it, building every single piece together and testing it out,” she said.

The bridge is made of carbon fiber, so it is very light-weight. The bridge breaks down into six pieces and can be carried in a backpack.

"It only weighs 27 pounds,” Davis said. “It also makes it very strong. When you put carbon fiber in tension it can hold ridiculous amounts of loads."

The Air Force asked students in the competition to design a device that soldiers can use to scale walls, cross a canal or bridge a gap.

Byard Wood, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at USU, described the competition’s requirements.

"This year's challenge was to get four personnel over a 20 foot gap,” he said. “That gap could be between two buildings. It could be across a crevasse. It could be across a canal or river or over boulders, and it had to be disassembled and put in a backpack, and it also had to hold 350 pounds."

The USU students had the fastest time on the course in the competition.

"We were able to take it out of the backpack, assemble it, cross multiple gaps and then reassemble it in six minutes,” Wood said.

Davis said the bridge can also serve other functions.

"It can also be used as an emergency transport system,” she said. “It can be used as a back brace for people that are injured."

ROTC student Jacob Sigleton said the bridge seemed well designed.

"It looks like they've considered a lot of the actual use from our troops overseas,” he said. “I heard a lot of different ideas and a lot of the projects didn't quite grasp what the Air Force wanted this to be used for, so I think it will work. I'm excited to try it out, and hopefully it will help our troops actually in the field."