Bridging the Gap: The 7th Annual MVMBBC!

Participants at the competition.

For the last seven years, YSU, in conjunction with several Valley companies and sponsors, has held the Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition, where students apply different engineering principles to building small wooden bridges. Out of 31 teams from 16 different area schools, Lowellville High School Team B brought home a first place win on February 28th, 2014. This is the fifth time in seven years that a Lowellville team has taken home first place.

Other awards were given for different achievements. Second place was taken home by the Jackson-Milton High School Team B, while also taking home the Strength Award. The Wade Harvey Design Award was awarded to the Niles McKinley High School Team A. This award is presented to the team that has demonstrated a high efficiency ratio and also scored high in aesthetics and complexity of the design. This award is named after Mr. Wade Harvey, a founder of the event, who lost his battle with cancer in 2010. A separate Aesthetics Award was presented to Poland Seminary High School Team A. The final award, the Teamwork Award, was presented to Western Reserve High School Team B.

The two teams from Lowellville were made up of six seniors: Michael Minnie, Nick Micco, Nick Luccente, Phil Alfano, Tyler Rotz, and Vince Hynes. Their coach, Mr. Rich Popio, takes a great deal of time with his students. He teaches them several different skills in his classroom, like AutoCAD, Robotics, and different technology courses. Because teachers like Mr Popio are committed to their students and take them to events like the MVMBBC at YSU, four out of the six boys on the teams plan on attending YSU this coming fall in various different programs.

While each of the boys participated in last year’s competition, they described their thought processes and gave advice to next year’s participants. Their first bridge, Team A, had a slight bend and straighter pieces for support. They also thought of where all of the weak spots could be and added reinforcements. The first bridge held around 67 pounds. Their second bridge, the first place bridge, held over 68 pounds using a four-beam design. The four beams arch across the length of the bridge with cross beams for additional support.

When asked about advice for next year, the boys laughed and in unison said ‘glue the joints!’

We would like to thank ms consultants, the Mahoning County and Trumbull County Engineer’s Offices, the GPD Group, YSU, and other sponsors for putting on a such a great event!

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