Mariam Hamadani, Khaled Alhakim, Felipe Paramo and Darius Ghib holding bridgeStudents display their model bridge, winner for most creative design: Mariam Hamadani, Khaled Alhakim, Felipe Paramo and Darius Ghib.

Competition bridges gap between theory and practice

For a lesson that really sticks, give engineering students something to build. That is the goal for civil engineering professor Amr El Ragaby, who assigned students in his third-year course “Finite Element for Analysis and Design” a project to design and build truss bridges using only popsicle sticks and glue.

Wednesday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation’s Industrial Courtyard, technicians put the models through their paces, applying a gradually increasing load until the bridges collapse.

“It was definitely fun—one of those projects where you get to see an end product,” said Steven Dong, who admitted it was jarring to see all his team’s hard work snapped in a matter of minutes. “I am a hands-on learner, so I love building things.”

His teammate, Melaney Stanberry, said she appreciated the chance to apply the material they learn in class.

“We got to use different styles of building trusses,” she said. “It was fun working with different people, collaborating to put our ideas together.”

In the end, winners were announced in three categories, each splitting a cash prize of $150.

  • The team whose design bore the highest load relative to the structure’s mass was David Basilious, Aaron Blata, Eric Coupe, Derek MacKell and Keegan Pearson.
  • Two teams tied for most accurately predicting the maximum load and deflection of their designs: Justin Clarkin, Cory Connelly Fox, Juduk Lee, Kaveera Naraynsingh and Ilia Rutkevich; and Jason Duic, Mike Korta, Russ Leclair, Dean Rice and Curtis Watson.
  • And the team whose design was judged most creative and innovative was Khaled Alhakim, Darius Ghib, Mariam Hamadani, and Felipe Paramo.

Tony Berardi, a principal with Stantec Consulting, one of the prize sponsors, said his company is happy to support Windsor Engineering.

“We like to promote the students learning the art of design, planning and project management,” he said.

Other sponsors included Canadian Joist and Deck, a manufacturer of steel trusses, and the Department of Civil and Envioronmental Engineering.

Watch a video showing the testing of the top load-bearing design: