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National youth bridge building competition selects 2019 winners

After the "dust" settled from cracked balsa-wood trusses and snapped string cables, three teams of students from Michigan took home top honors at the 2019 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials National Bridge Challenge competition, an event that is part of the organization's annual spring meeting, held this year in Park City, Utah. The National Bridge Challenge is part of the Transportation and Civil Engineering or TRAC program that teaches secondary school students from 7th through 12th grade how to apply a variety of math and science concepts to common engineering problems occurring in the development of transportation systems. Over a nearly eight-month period, student teams participating in the contest built model bridges made from kits provided by the TRAC program that included glue and balsa wood. They then used Model Smart and Bentley software to design their bridges, built prototypes and used destructive testing to gauge the upper limits of the strength-to-weight ratio of their designs.