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Library bridge

A 20-foot steel bridge is latest addition to UCSD's Science & Engineering Library may be a bridge to nowhere, but it was constructed under the strictest building requirements, and was required to meet rigorous structural efficiency and economy standards, as well as withstand a 2,500 pound load.

The 200-pound bridge, completely designed and fabricated by a team of 12 UC San Diego undergraduate engineering students, won second place among 17 competing schools at the 2008 Pacific Southwest Regional Conference Steel Bridge Competition, held last year at Cal State Northridge.

The bridge, which at completion comprised about 70 different parts, was constructed with the help of the Campus Research Machine Shop (CRMS), although students were responsible for the design and fabrication, and learned how to weld, mill, and lathe steel parts.

UCSD's Society of Civil Engineers, of which the participating students are members, competes annually in the contest, which is designed to test students' creativity and analytical skills, while teaching real-life machining skills.

Members of the 2008 steel bridge team include: Jeremy Niez (Captain), Marcelino Ascensio, Oliver Asis, Michael Barnes, Lacy Cobb, Jimmie Chung, Colin Haynes, Darin McKay, Stephanie Rider, Armondo Romo, Scott Schrommer and Mick Wasco.

The team's advisors were Michael Todd, Benson Shing and Chia-Ming Uang, all professors of structural engineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Iron and Steel Institute, the major sponsors of the competition, the contest aims to increase student awareness of real-world issues such as spatial constraints, material properties, strength, safety and various other factors.

The competition, from conception and design through fabrication, erection and testing, culminates in a steel structure that meets client specifications and optimizes performance and economy.

South Dakota wind

(AP) -- South Dakota Public Utilities Commission member Steve Kolbeck says a decision is pending on the $700 million, 306-megawatt Buffalo Ridge II wind farm proposed for 77,000 acres of land and could include 204 wind turbines.

The PUC doesn't have a specific date for a decision.

Dubai airport

(AP) -- Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said Monday a new airport envisioned as the world's biggest passenger and freight hub could see its first flight pushed back further than planned.

In addition, Griffiths said the number of runways at the colossal Al Maktoum International Airport has been scaled back to five from the six slated originally.

The new $33 billion facility and surrounding multi-use development, being built in the desert outskirts of Dubai, now isn't expected to see action until at least June 2010, a year later than a previously planned inauguration, Griffiths said. Even that date is up in the air.

Philippine property

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippine property rally that sent real estate stocks to a three-month high may falter on slowing remittances of funds from citizens working overseas, BPI Asset Management Inc. said.

Last week's reduction in interest rates to the lowest in 17 years may fail to spur home sales because Filipinos will probably cut spending as the local economy weakens, said Olan Caperina, a fund manager at Manila-based BPI Asset, the nation's biggest fund management company with $7.75 billion in assets.

"When people are concerned about job security, it's hard to imagine them making big purchases and getting a housing loan," Caperina said Monday.

Russia mortgages

(Bloomberg) -- Russia has provided funds and loans to its mortgage-lending agency in an attempt to reduce mortgage rates to pre-crisis levels of about 12 percent, President Dmitry Medvedev said.

"We have increased its capital by 20 billion rubles ($600 million) and another 40 billion will come as loans," Medvedev said.

Medvedev said the measure aims to cut rates by about 6 percent. The addition of regional co-financing would reduce the rate further.

"The overall effect could be a reduction of 8 or even 8.5 percent," Medvedev said. "And thus we would come back to the rate we had; the one at which people were actually willing to take out a mortgage."

Dubai prices

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai house prices have fallen as much as 42 percent in the past six months and are likely to drop further as new homes are completed amid waning demand in the Persian Gulf business hub, Colliers CRE Plc said.

Prices will decline even as estimates for the number of new homes coming onto the market are revised lower, to about 64,800 units between now and the end of 2011, the property adviser said. It had previously estimated 140,000 new units by the end of 2010.

It's "reasonable to assume that as new stock continually comes online that the downward trend in the market will continue throughout 2009 and is unlikely to stabilize before the second- quarter of 2010," Ian Albert, the firm's regional director, said in the report.

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