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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.

two student teams watch as one balsa wood bridge collapses under the weight

Billiken BEAMS is hosted by SLU's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Saint Louis University. It 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 create a computer model of the bridge with the help of civil engineering faculty and students. The materials to construct the bridge are provided to the teams after registration. The teams then have until the competition date to construct the bridge, when they return to campus to compete in a head-to-head competition against other teams.

For more information, contact the Billiken BEAMS team at


In order to compete, students should form teams of one 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 32 student groups who sign-up on a first come, first registered basis.

Register for Billiken BEAMS 2024

Key Dates

2024 Dates

  • Wednesday, Jan. 3: Registration opens
  • Monday, Jan. 15: Early registration deadline at 11:59 p.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 29: Late registration closes at 11:59 p.m. 
  • Monday, Jan. 8 to Friday, Feb. 2 (by appointment): Bridge materials pick-up at School of Science and Engineering
  • Saturday, Feb. 10: Competition questions deadline
  • Saturday, Feb. 10: Bridge reports due by 11:59 p.m. 
  • Saturday, Feb. 17: Billiken BEAMS competition at 10 a.m. Teams check in at 9 a.m.

The registration fee is $35 per team before January 15 and $40 per team after that date. The registration fee covers all bridge construction materials, operating costs  and participation in the competition. Payment can be submitted online using SLU Marketplace. 

Make a registration payment

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%