With the new year comes new challenges, such as this year’s annual Wood Bridge Challenge for high school students. The competition held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry was postponed due to weather, but local students, teachers, parents, and volunteers finally made it to the museum on January 25th for this year’s challenge. Among the volunteers was Nicole Baer, P.E., who has been helping with the competition for over 10 years.
The students are given specifications for the design of a bridge using basswood and glue. The specs include the bridge span, loading locations, and limits for the height, width, and distance below the load plane. In addition to the geometric constraints, the bridge has to allow passage of a 1.5” PVC pipe over its “drive lane”. These specifications were significantly different from the past few years, and the students had to think creatively to build a lightweight structure that would work efficiently to satisfy all requirements. On competition day, students and faculty from Johns Hopkins University mount the bridges on their testing equipment and the bridges are loaded to failure. The winner is the most efficient bridge – that is, the one that uses the least material to hold the most weight without failure or deflection beyond the limit.
Hope Furrer Associates is pleased we could be one of the Gold Sponsors for the event, allowing the winning students to receive cash prizes for help with their schooling. The grand prize winner is eligible to compete in the international competition which will take place in Chicago this May.