By David Fleet
On May 20-22, BHS freshman Emma Martin, Ella Miller, and Christa Spencer participated in the National Transportation and Civil Engineering Bridge competition. The event is coordinated by American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials (AASHTO).
The bridge building team of “Triple B” traveled to Franklin, Tenn., to compete against five other teams of ninth and tenth graders from across the United States. This is the second consecutive year a BHS team has qualified a team for national competition. The teams used PowerPoint presentations and answered questions from a panel of judges comprised of various AASHTO and sponsors. Judges examined each bridge entry to make sure it fits the specifications given in the rules, and finally a performance test measured the stability of construction.
This year the challenge design assigned was a Cable Stayed Bridge—a bridge in which the weight of the deck is supported by a number of cables running directly to one or more towers.
“They have been hard at work designing, testing, redesigning and writing their 36 page proposal which qualified them for nationals,” said Pauline Bandlow, coach. “Triple B” delivered a flawless PowerPoint presentation to a panel of six judges and a packed room of over 100 guests. All in attendance agreed they had a medal in sight. The afternoon session started the main event of “breaking bridges” The crowd cheered as their bridge deck bowed and the load went as high as 87 pounds before snapping.”
In the end “Triple B” finished in fourth position nationally.
The purpose of the TRAC program is to introduce students to the wide variety of career opportunities available in the field of engineering. This particular event teaches secondary students how to apply a variety of math and science concepts to common engineering problems occurring in transportation systems. Students collect and analyze data, learn to use software programs, and test a series of models to develop their designs.