Young Bridge Builders Crush It This Weekend

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Twenty-five years ago, it began with spaghetti being tried as a possible material with which to build bridges. A quarter of a century later, young students are now using balsa wood to build structures that will then stand up to the pressure applied to them until they “get crushed.” This weekend marks the ever-popular 25th Annual Bridge Building contest the Sault College Civil Engineering Technician program is hosting.

This Saturday, May 10th at 10:00am in the Multimedia Centre on Sault College’s campus, the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, Her Worship Debbie Amaroso, will be on hand to officially open the contest, welcome guests and mark the start of the day’s events. The Grades 5 and 6 division – the youngest of the four divisions participating, will get underway first just after 10:00 a.m., and then other grades will follow throughout the day. Refreshments will be provided in the cafeteria to those in attendance, and all are welcome to come by anytime during the day on a come-and-go basis free-of-charge to witness the action first-hand.

“Bridge Building is a great way to introduce young minds to the world of civil engineering,” states Ray Escasa, Bridge Building co-organizer and Sault College recruiter. “It’s always exciting for youth and their parents to see what happens when their bridges are tested for strength and then crushed – there’s nothing quite like it. Local schools have continued to embrace this event after more than two decades, incorporating the contest into their bridges and structures curriculum and here at Sault College, we are honoured to once again host the event and inspire students at such an early age.”

Hundreds of elementary school students from the community were given the opportunity to participate in Bridge Building informational clinics over the past several months. Sault College’s Civil Engineering Technician program professors, engineers, and student recruiters all provided valuable tips and demonstrations on how to construct the strongest and sturdiest of bridges at the workshops.

Civil and Architectural engineers who are volunteers from the community will be on hand to judge the construction of each bridge for both aesthetics and structural ability. Then, the bridges will be scored for strength during a process that has pressure applied to the structure until the bridge is crushed. The total load applied to the top centre of each bridge before it is ultimately crushed by the weight is then recorded as part of an overall mark.

Cash prizes will be awarded to contest winners. First-place winners in each category will receive $100. $75 will be awarded to each second-place winner and $50 will be given to third-place winners. In the grade 5/6 and 7/8 categories, additional smaller cash prizes will be awarded. Corby the Cougar, Sault College’s mascot, will help celebrate the achievements of the winners by visiting their respective schools in the next few weeks to give winners their prizes after the contest has wrapped up.

Phil Becker, General Manager of the International Bridge Administration has generously donated the following prizes for the top 3 winners in each of the three grade categories (Grades 5/6, Grades 7/8 and Grades 9-12):
· 1st Place: a guided tour of the International Bridge
· 2nd Place: a mounted “50th anniversary piece of the bridge”
· 3rd Place: an anniversary ball cap.

First place for the Grade 9-12 category is an International Bridge Arch Tour presented on behalf of the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority Board of Directors and the International Bridge Administration staff. This is a unique and exhilarating opportunity to see the surrounding area from high up in the sky as the arch tours are not available to the general public and are offered on a limited basis to select community organizations and service groups in support of educational and charitable programs such as this.

This year’s sponsors of the popular event include the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), Professional Engineers Ontario, Algoma Chapter (PEO), Rotary Club North and OACETT – Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists. The Sault Bridge Authority, School College Work Initiative (SCWI) and the International Bridge Administration are also program sponsors.

Various community members will be present to lend their support throughout the day on a come-and-go basis. Students and classroom teachers may drop off completed bridges at the College and register for the contest on Thursday, May 8 from 3:30pm to 8:00pm in Essar Hall’s front foyer on Northern Avenue. The Bridge Building event is free to attend an open to the general public. Free parking is available anywhere on campus. For more information, please contact Rob Running in Sault College Student Recruitment at 705-759-2554, ext. 2306 or visit www.saultcollege.ca/bridgebuilding.