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Technologist Matt St. Louis helps students set their model bridge in a special machine to measure its ability to support weight. Technologist Matt St. Louis (top) helps students set their model bridge in a special machine to measure its ability to support weight.

Crushing competition to test construction competence

The campus community is invited to watch as a group of third-year civil engineering students see their best efforts crushed, Wednesday in the Industrial Courtyard.

Students in professor Amr ElRagaby’s class “Finite Element for Analysis and Design” will test the load-bearing abilities of model bridges they have designed and built from craft sticks and glue.

The project gives the students hands-on experience in applying their learning, says Dr. ElRagaby. They have employed computer analysis tools to predict the maximum load their designs can bear before collapsing.

“Failure is the ultimate goal, because only then can we know the ultimate limits of their strengths and flexibility,” he says. “When they have a chance to apply the theories to a real-world outcome, they learn something they will never forget.”

The competition offers cash prizes in three categories:

  • highest ratio of load borne to structure mass and deformation;
  • most accurate prediction of maximum load; and
  • most creative and innovative design.

The testing is open for public viewing and begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30, in the Industrial Courtyard, Centre for Engineering Innovation.