Student Design-Build Competition

The Preservation Engineering Technical Committee (PETC) Student Design-Build Competition is a hands on challenge to students with an interest in historic buildings and structures. Following other student engineering design competitions, teams (composed of any students enrolled at the time of competition call) work to analyze an existing structure and subsequently design a structure within the specified guidelines. The designs are evaluated and top teams are brought to the APT Annual Conference for on-site building and testing of their structures, followed by a final competition phase of unique preservation type questions and solutions.

The objective of this competition is to engage more students into the Preservation/Conservation Engineering field. The students will learn how the approach to historic buildings and structures differs from new design, with the emphasis to be placed on maintenance and durability of historic materials.

Design Build Competition Phases
Each year a “theme” is announced by the PETC for the competition focus. The past years’ themes have been timber bridges and masonry arches. The competition is open to any and is generally divided into three (3) phases throughout the year:

Phase 1 Winter - Structure/Building Selection
Phase 2 Spring/Summer - In-House Research, Design and Test Build
Phase 3 Fall - Conference Finals - Build, Testing, and Presentations

At the beginning of the competition typically right after the conference, the PETC releases a Specification package to any group interested in participating. The Specifications provide detail on the theme, requirements for submission at each phase, as well as technical descriptions/limitations on the build during Phase 3. Teams compete against the established rubric to allow the top teams to be invited to participate in Phase 3. The bulk of Phase 3 occurs during the annual APT conference. During the conference, the teams present their studies performed in Phase 2 to APT attendees, solve and present their solutions to presentation problems given at the conference, perform a timed build of their structure, and load test their built structure.

Top selected teams to participate in Phase 3 are required to fund their travel and lodging to the competition; however, the PETC covers their conference registration through generous donations and sponsorship opportunities. The PETC has typically planned for five (5) teams to participate in Phase 3. Please let us know if you are interested in helping the Student Design Build Competition!

Donations for the Competition
(make sure to check the box “PETC Student Design Competition”!)

The Student Design-Build Competition Task Force is comprised of people who volunteer their time throughout the competition process. We can use more hands to support the students, as well as other PETC initiatives.

Are you interested? If so, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

Past Student Projects
Click on the links to view photos and information from past competitions.


Sarah Gray
Rachel Will

Amy Woods

2024 Timber Bridge Competition

For more information or to get involved, please contact us at [email protected].