February 21, 2018

Purdue student engineering group hosts annual Bridge Bust event

2017 Bridge Bust Students use cups of sand to test the strength of a bridge at the 2017 Bridge Bust. (Photo/Lyles School of Civil Engineering) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Weeks of bridge work by high school students will quickly come to an end at the 39th annual Bridge Bust 2018 Competition hosted by Purdue’s American Society of Civil Engineers.

A total of 133 teams comprised of 245 students from 18 schools in Indiana and Illinois will participate in the event Friday (Feb. 23).

Purdue ASCE hosts Bridge Bust each year as an outreach event to area high schools. The objective of the competition is to build a balsa wood bridge that can carry the largest capacity possible, using as few materials as possible. Awards are based on design as well as loading capacity.

Casey Rodgers, seismic design captain and Bridge Bust chairperson for the ASCE, said the event is intended to give high school students an opportunity to explore civil engineering while having fun and gaining some hands-on experience.

“The bridges have gotten more complex and impressive,” she said. “Several of the bridges have interesting arches and shapes. It’s evident that the students put a lot of effort into designing and building their bridges.”

Teams assemble the bridges from 20 sticks of balsa wood and a bottle of glue. Most bridges are approximately 2 feet long and 8 inches high. The teams will be judged on loading efficiency, aesthetic qualities and structural concepts.

Loading efficiency will be determined by pouring cups of sand into buckets that will be hung from the bridges. The bridge that can hold the most weight relative to its own weight wins the category.

Bridge breaking will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in the Feature Gym of the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center. A 2 p.m. presentation by Pablo Zavattieri, professor of civil engineering at Purdue, will be followed at 2:30 p.m. by the event’s awards ceremony.

Rodgers said the bridges will be judged by Purdue civil engineering students and faculty.

The event will be live-streamed on the Lyles School of Civil Engineering’s Facebook page.

State Street Redevelopment Project construction will begin again in earnest on March 5, 2018. This work will close portions of Stadium Avenue, McCormick Road, Airport Road and Williams Street and significantly affect surrounding thoroughfares in West Lafayette. For construction and project information, visit www.statestreetwl.com

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Source: Casey Rodgers, rodger12@purdue.edu

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