The Stress of Competition
For the 50th year, high school students from across Colorado met to test just how much load their engineering skills could take.
The annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Competition—sponsored by NSPE-Colorado, the US Bureau of Reclamation, and the Colorado chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies—challenges students to do a lot with a little.
Among the competition’s specifications: Bridges must be constructed only from 3/32-inch-square cross-section basswood, nonmetallic cables, and any commonly available adhesive; and the bridge mass shall be no greater than 40 grams. An increasing load is applied at the midspan of the bridge until failure occurs. The top three bridges with the highest structural efficiency ratings determine each region’s top three winners.
The competition was held February 18 at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Materials Engineering and Research Laboratory in Denver.
This year, first place students from Region 1 and Region 2 each took home a $2,000 scholarship provided by NSPE-Colorado’s Education Foundation and ACEC’s Colorado chapter.
The top two winners also received an opportunity to attend the 2017 International Bridge Building Contest, scheduled for April 22 in Dallas.
NSPE-Colorado’s participation in this year’s event was dedicated to Gene Burdick, P.E., F.NSPE, who passed away on October 22, 2016. Burdick served at the national, state, and chapter levels of NSPE for over 40 years, and he was the owner of Burdick Engineering Consultants for over 30 years. NSPE-Colorado described Burdick as “one of the most dedicated and committed members of NSPE-CO, and was a mentor and role model to many, including members, leadership, and staff.”