AK2 Bridge team heads to national competition

The Brandon High School freshmen STEM team of Kaitlyn McKinney, Alexsis Spragg, and Katelyn Bobel have qualified to participate at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials-Transportation and Civil Engineering (AASHTO-TRAC) Bridge Competition for 2020 in Kansas City, Mo.
Competing at the national level has now become a tradition for the Brandon High School STEM Pathway program as this is now the fourth consecutive year a team will be representing our community. Date to be determined.
Each year freshmen students of the STEM Pathways program at the high school participate in the state level MDOT – TRAC bridge building competition. To simulate an engineer’s job of designing a safe and cost effective bridge, teams develop a bridge that carries a high load relative to the bridge mass.
The Brandon class of 2023 consisted of 26 teams. The bridge building team is coached by Pauline Bandlow.
“Unfortunately, like so many other public events at this time, MDOT-TRAC has cancelled this year’s competition, with no plans to reschedule,” said Bandlow.
The 78 freshmen will not be traveling to Grand Rapids at the end of April to compete with schools across the state. However, a local competition will be scheduled for a later date, allowing all 26 teams to present their 10 minute PowerPoint presentation to judges and to test the weight-to-strength ratio of each design.
The goal this year, State (MDOT) and National (AASHTO), for 9-10 graders is to develop a Deck Arch Truss Bridge that will carry as much weight as possible while weighing as little as possible (strength-to-weight ratio). Each team had to research the bridge type, design and conduct experiments to test for strength-to-weight ratio, and then redesign a bridge resulting from those experiments. Students are limited to the balsa wood and specialty glue provided by TRAC. Competing teams are required to develop a report portfolio describing the design and testing of the bridge and create design drawings using Bentley PowerDraft CAD software.
It is this report portfolio students submitted early February. The quality of this report determines a team’s qualification at both levels. All 26 teams submit state level proposals, while five teams also chose to submit a similar proposal for the national consideration.
AASHTO bridge competition is open to all students grades 7-12, across the US.

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