TRAC Bridge Building on track

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Wrtier
Brandon STEM is going for a three-peat.
For the past three years, the Brandon High School has qualified for the national TRAC Bridge Building competition. The teams for the past three years

from left juniors Kyra Burger, Haley Solo, Sara Pesta; sophomores Ella Miller, Emma Mertin, Christa Spencer; Freshmen Rylee Sobecki, Paige Thwig and Maddie Misena

have consisted of three freshman girls, and only six teams in the nation qualify every year. This year’s team, “Knot Right,” consists of freshmen Rylee Sobecki, Paige Thwig and Maddie Misenar.
“For Brandon to be one of six teams in the entire nation for the third straight year, it says a lot about what is possible here,” said Superintendent Dr. Matt Outlaw. “Our STEM Academy at Brandon High School is a true leader in STEM education in the State.”
The STEM program focuses on using science, technology, engineering and math to solve real-world problems, and each year the bridge building team writes a proposal and builds a model bridge that fits the criteria for the year. This year, the challenge design was a tied-arch bridge.
The project focuses on engineering, and according to the Society of Women Engineers study, only 13 percent of engineers are women.

“I like the idea of learning through doing,” said Kyra Burger, junior.
The other girls from the teams echoed her reasons for going into the STEM program. Last year’s team was the Triple Bs, and the prior year the team was The Suspension is Killing Me.
“I’m planning on going into engineering,” said Christa Spencer, sophomore. “It’s good to get the hands on experience.”
The purpose of the competition is to introduce the students to different jobs in the engineering field, with this particular one to explore the common problems with engineering and transportation.
“The success of the students that go through the STEM program is unbelievable. Many of our recent STEM Academy graduates are excelling at some of the most competitive colleges in the nation,” said Outlaw. “I am so appreciative of the hard work and dedication of all of the STEM students and staff. I am especially proud to see Brandon students leading the way and being one of 6 finalists for the third straight year.”
This year the competition will be in Park City, Utah, May 20-22, where the six qualifying teams will present a ten minute PowerPoint to the panel of judges, as well as structurally test their bridges. The challenge is to create a bridge that is structurally sound with the materials provided, but also to make it cost effective.
“I like the idea of working together, hands on,” said Maddie Misenar, freshman.