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Billiken BEAMS

Billiken BEAMS

Saint Louis University’s Building Engineering Awareness in Metro Saint Louis Schools Competition — or Billiken BEAMS — is a group-based project opportunity in which students compete in teams to design and build road-based bridges out of balsa wood.

Billiken BEAMS is hosted by SLU's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology and is open to high school students in the metropolitan St. Louis area.

The object of the competition is to see who can design, construct and test the most efficient road bridge. Efficiency is calculated as the load supported in pounds divided by the weight of the bridge in pounds.

Teams design a bridge to meet the competition specifications and bring their designs to SLU to create a computer model of the bridge with the help of civil engineering faculty and students. The materials used in the construction of the bridge are provided to the teams at the end of the computer modeling session. The teams then have until the date of the competition to construct the bridge.

For more information, contact the Billiken BEAMS team at or 314-977-8443.


In order to compete, students should form teams of two to four members and register using the online registration form.

Each team must designate a primary team contact who will complete the registration and process payment for the entire team. The primary team contact is usually an advisor, teacher or parent who will lead the group. Do not register team members individually.

Registration is open to the first 30 student groups who sign-up on a first come, first registered basis.

Key Dates
  • October 17: Registration opens
  • November 10: Session 1: Computer modeling workshops and material pickup. Teams will be notified of a time slot to attend.
  • January 18: Registration closes at 5 p.m.
  • January 26: Session 2: Computer modeling workshops and material pickup. Teams will be notified of a time slot to attend.
  • February  15: Bridge reports due by 11:59 p.m.
  • February 23: Billiken BEAMS competition. 10 a.m. - Noon

The registration fee is $30 per team and covers all bridge construction materials, team member T-shirts, attendance at the preparation workshop and participation in the competition. Payment can be submitted online using SLU Marketplace.

Competition Rules
  • Please note that the rules for the 2019 competition have changed. 
  • Click here to view the rules. 
Competition Rubric

Awards will be given to the top two teams which are determined based on the total points earned during the evaluation process. Below are the categories and maximum points available for each category to be used in the evaluation of the bridges:

  • 20 points: Bridge meets specifications
  • 30 points: Load carrying capacity prior to failure (100 pounds maximum permitted load)
  • 20 points: Load/weight efficiency ratio prior to failure (100 pounds maximum permitted load)
  • 15 points: Design and construction report
  • 15 points: Aesthetics

Total equals 100 points.