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Bridges, bridges everywhere!

by Archives March 13, 2002

In what can only be described as the Woodstock of civil engineering, the 2002 edition of the Bridge Building Competition did not disappoint.
Teams like the Stiff Woodies, the Not-So-Rigid Members and Eight Balls and a Bridge were just some of the wacky entries at the 18th annual event, which brings together engineering students from across the world to show off their projects.
The students had to build bridges from string, popsicle sticks and glue.
“We host the competition because of the variety of designs generated by the minds of budding engineers,” said Jeff Moffat, president of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) and one of the organizers that put on the event.
“The competition provides a platform in which they can push the boundaries of design. The results of which is new and innovative ideas that drive an industry forward.”
With a crowd of rowdy engineering students waving flags and blowing horns in the Hall Building auditorium, all 37 teams were vying for the title of strongest bridge. The competition welcomed over 200 participants, making it most attended Bridge Building Competition at Concordia ever. These aspiring engineers came from as far east as France and as far west as Calgary.
“This year’s competition exceeded all of our expectations,” said Moffat. “For the first time ever the competition was successfully expanded to include a team from outside North America. With the inclusion of a team from France, the Bridge Building Competition has now achieved true international status.”
The Crusher, the competition’s hydraulic press which measures the amount of pressure a bridge can withstand, destroyed a number popsicle stick and glue creations before it broke down.
“The Crusher is currently inoperable. We will be having it repaired within a couple weeks,” said Moffat. “We did manage to get all the remaining bridges crushed in the Structures lab. However, the Structures lab is not equipped to hold a viewing audience nor were we able to continue the web cast of the event.”
When all the splinters were swept away, the winners were finally announced. First place was awarded to the Ecole de Technologie SupZrieure Zeniths, who were also given the award for Best Aesthetics.
The most original bridge design went to The Spies from Concordia University. The Best Newcomer Award of the competition was awarded to ENS-Cachan of France, while the Team Spirit Award was given to McMaster University.
Moffat said that while the quality of the bridges increases every year, the competition has other goals as well.
“I am always amazed at the number of different design approaches used in the Bridge Building Competition,” he said. “Some approaches are applicable to real world applications while others stretch the realm of possibility for future design methods.
“The competition also serves as a platform to enable students from across the world to join together in the sharing of experiences and ideas. It is our hope that each participant walks away from the competition having learned something new,” he added.

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