The University of Akron and the Defense Metals Technology Center to sponsor competition to design titanium pedestrian bridge


The Defense Metals Technology Center (DMTC) of North Canton, Ohio, and The University of Akron will sponsor a competition among civil engineering, architecture and industrial design departments of universities in “America’s Metals Heartland” to design a pedestrian bridge made of titanium.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate in this demonstration project,” says Dr. Luis M. Proenza, president of The University of Akron. “A titanium bridge will continue to reflect the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit we engender on our campus.”

“This unique competition will also illustrate that titanium can readily be used in meaningful commercial projects,” says Charles D. Clark, executive director of the DMTC.  “In turn, such interest should heighten demand for titanium of a quality that the military requires and thus lead to the creation of new jobs.”

Designing the bridge will help to solve a logistical problem at The University of Akron’s Quaker Square residence hall and conference center, which is separated from the main campus by busy CSX railroad tracks. Each day numerous pedestrians walk precariously across the tracks, rather than accessing two nearby conventional bridges.

Once the titanium bridge competition is completed, federal, state, and local funding will be sought for its construction.

Bridge to be first of a kind

“The University of Akron-DMTC sponsorship is also a way to draw upon the military’s knowledge to benefit the nation’s infrastructure by designing the first bridge to be constructed exclusively of titanium,” says Clark.

In 2007, Congress funded the DMTC at North Canton’s Stark State College as a U.S. Army Center of Excellence. The goal: to find innovative, cost-saving techniques for the use of specialty metals and to improve the military’s security and America’s economy.

Titanium has advantages over other metals: it is only half the weight of steel, yet just as strong.  It does not rust and is corrosion-resistant to sea water and chlorine.  Many experts believe that bridges secured with titanium would be better protected against a possible collapse than conventional steel-supported bridges.

For years the military has used titanium in advanced aircraft. Today it is a major structural metal for numerous aerospace applications. Recently, the military has employed titanium on a limited basis to protect Humvees and other vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Students in six states eligible

Qualified to participate in the Design Competition are schools and departments of civil engineering, architecture, and industrial design from institutions in what the DMTC calls America’s Metals Heartland — Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Indiana, southeast Michigan, northern Kentucky and northern West Virginia.

As an incentive, the DMTC will provide scholarship money to students on the first and second place and honorable mention teams. Likewise, it will convey grants to the winning institutions for the study of specialty metals in commercial applications.

The DMTC sent applications to qualified institutions on June 15. The winners will be announced at a dinner at The University of Akron in May 2010. The selection committee is composed of Northeast Ohio civic leaders.

More information can be obtained at

Media Contacts: Charles D. Clark, Defense Metals Technology Center, 330-305-6605,; or Laura M. Massie, UA, 330-972-6476;