Brandon bridge builders top in state for second straight year

By David Fleet
Brandon Twp. — The Brandon High School STEM team Brazen Bridges consisting of Natalie Luttermoser, Inola Wood and Mea Collins placed second along with the Hustle Hawks team of Danielle Hearns, Kaylee Garner and Alonso Cruz-Canales traveled to Lansing to compete at the state level competition. It was the second year Brandon has placed two teams in the top four in the state.
Lesley Hildebrand, Brandon High School physics teacher, coordinated the Bridge competition. A total of 18 Brandon teams of 53 students made the trek to Lansing for the event.
“The bridge event provides the students professional work skills, along with team building,” said Hildebrand. “The students interact with adults and must work as a team to succeed. It’s all more than just building a bridge.”
There were more than 60 teams from across the lower and upper peninsula. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also attended the event and interacted with many of the students.
On April 27 the State of Michigan Department of Transportation- Transportation and Civil Engineering (MDOT- TRAC) hosted the bridge challenge event at the Lansing Center. At the competition, teams will present a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation and structurally test their bridges against teams from across Michigan to determine the winning team.
The goal of this competition is to develop a Tied Arch (Bowstring) 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, kite string, and specialty glue provided by TRAC. Competing teams were required to develop a report portfolio describing the design and testing of the bridge and create design drawings using Bentley PowerDraft and other 3D CAD software. This portfolio determined the qualification for both state and national competitions.

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