Area students build bridges, then put them to the test with MoDOT

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Michael Harris places a model car onto a truss bridge Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

The 12th annual Missouri Department of Transportation Bridge Building Competition was held Nov. 19 at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau.

The competition is a yearly opportunity for students from more than 40 Southeast Missouri high schools to learn about civil engineering and bridge design.

Allowed only 15 pieces of lightweight balsa wood, thread and glue, ingenuity was a necessity when it came to planning, and 316 bridges underwent rigorous testing to see whether they could hold up. Although the students had weeks before the competition to develop their bridges, the true test came when MoDOT's judges placed a weight mechanism on the middle of each bridge to determine its load-bearing ability.

Once each bridge was broken, the judges determined the weight at which the structure collapsed and determined the winners based on the heaviest weight held by the lightest bridge, along with all of the schools' combined scores.

Overall performance awards were given to the top three high schools: Chaffee High School in third, Oak Ridge High School in second and Ste. Genevieve High School in first. The top 10 students who built the lightest bridges able to withstand the most weight were given monetary awards.

Michael Chasteen watches as a truss bridge breaks under the weight Nov. 19 during the annual Missouri Department of Transportation bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

Backpacks also were given to the top three students: Daniel Vieth of Ste. Genevieve in third, Jessica Hahs of Oak Ridge in second and Dalton Giesler of Ste. Genevieve in first.

Other awards given at the competition included most aesthetic bridge, won by Savannah Mackey of Delta C-7 High School, and the computer-based electronic bridge award, won by Jamie Hodge of Delta High School.

Michael Harris keeps his eye on the bridge as weight is added to the structure Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
Model bridges from area high schools wait to be judged Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
Jake Butler keeps his eye on a truss bridge Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
Jake Butler keeps his eye on a truss bridge Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
A truss bridge breaks from the weight Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
Water is added to a bucket to increase the weight on the bridges Nov. 19 during the annual MoDOT bridge building competition at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
Volunteers work the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition Nov. 19 at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
The audience takes in the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition Nov. 19 at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
The audience takes in the annual MoDOT bridge-building competition Nov. 19 at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)
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