Bridge building competition held at MSSU for local students

Seven schools compete in event
Bridge building competition held at MSSU for local students
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A competition tonight at Missouri Southern State University for local high school students, to build the best bridge they can. It’s been going on for 18 years and this year, 7 local schools competed.

The annual competition is hosted by the Southwest Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers and that group is made up by local engineers like Shiloh Burchfield from Allgeier, Martin and Associates. Burchfield says “It really is exciting to see kids and they’re interested in doing something that’s technical, because it’s, sometimes it feels like that’s not happening anymore.”

The students were given certain conditions to build their bridges they could only be about a foot long, and had to weigh no more than 25 grams – a little less than an ounce. That may be a challenge for some folks, but not for students like East Newton sophomore Vanessa Enslow. Enslow says “I actually came up with this design from the first year that I did it, I went out and I actually looked at real life bridges, and I saw that a lot of them have this basic dome shape.”

Her bridge, which you can see post testing here, came out on top this year. As for the testing special blocks are loaded on to the bridge deck which then have a bucket attached. From there, lead weights are dumped into the buckets until the bridge finally collapses. Enslow says “You really get butterflies in your stomach and then right when it snaps, you kinda jump, and you’re like ‘oh no what’s going to happen?’ then you start to relax after all the numbers go up on the board.”

Some bridges held quite a bit of weight,others, snapped quickly under the stress. Enslow’s bridge held nearly 46 pounds. And she’s got some advice for other future engineers…Enslow says “Definitely go for it and try new things because, like I said, this year I tried a lot of new things and I ended up being at the top of the board so, I’m really excited about that.”

Cash prizes and scholarship funds are on the line in the competition. From here, the winners are entered into a national contest hosted by the National Society of Professional Engineers.