Students take top honours in bridge building competition

A pair of third-year civil engineering students recently found out the old adage about keeping things simple really does pay off.

Curtis Watson and Dean Rice took first place honours for the rudimentary but extremely sturdy bridge they built for the Municipal Engineers Association’s bridge-building competition held at Caesars last week.

“Everyone else built these elaborate tress type of structures and we just built a single beam overpass,” said Watson. “We weren’t trying to re-invent the wheel. Everyone laughed at it when they saw it, but in the end it worked out.”

The contest required participants to build a bridge out of nothing more than six three-foot-long pieces of balsa wood and LePage’s white glue. The challenge was to see how much weight it would support until it failed. Watson and Rice’s bridge weighed only 35 grams, but held 115 pounds.

“That’s about 1,500 times its own weight,” Rice said.

The students, who both aspire to become professional engineers but are considering graduate school, won a $150 gift certificate for their efforts. They beat out seven other mostly local teams to claim top prize.

A team consisting of Juduk Lee, Ilia Rootkevitch, Mohammed Zeinedin, and Risha Vithlani took second place in the competition. They built a truss bridge that weighed 39 grams and supported 100 pounds.