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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 11: Registration opens
  • November 16: Introduction to Bridge Design Workshop 1 (Team will attend only one Bridge Design Workshop)
  • November 23: Introduction to Bridge Design Workshop 2 (Team will attend only one Bridge Design Workshop)
  • January 18: Introduction to Bridge Design Workshop 3 (Team will attend only one Bridge Design Workshop)
  • January 10: Registration closes at 5 p.m.
  • February  7: Bridge reports due by 11:59 p.m.
  • February 15: Billiken BEAMS competition. 10 a.m. - Noon

The registration fee is $25 per team before November 8 and $30 per team after that date. The registration fee covers all bridge construction materials, team member T-shirts, attendance at the intro workshop  and participation in the competition. Payment can be submitted online using SLU Marketplace.

Competition Rules
  • Please note that the rules for the 2020 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:

  • 25%: Maximum Load Supported
  • 25%: Strength-to-Weight Ratio
  • 15%: Bridge Specifications
  • 15%: Project Report
  • 10%: Aesthetics
  • 10%: Trivia

Total equals a possible 100%