Building Bridges: STEM College to High School Students

YSU got a good look at its future engineers on Friday, March 1st, at the Fifth Annual Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition. The competition gathered high school students from around the Valley to participate in building balsa wood bridges, which are then tested to see which team built the best bridge.

Each year, students gather from different schools, into groups of two to three, to build model bridges. They are given twenty balsa wood sticks, three three-foot long balsa wood sticks, one balsa wood plank, and medium-density super glue. With those supplies, the students have a maximum of three hours to build a miniature bridge that they will test by days end. They test the bridges to see which bridge has the highest load-to-weight capacity.

This year Lowellville High School took both first and third places. The first place team, Lowellville Team A, scored a 1248 and their bridge held 131.16 lbs. The second team for Lowellville, Team B, placed third; and their bridge scored a 970 and held 81.18 lbs. Second place was won by Niles-McKinley High School Team A; and they scored a 1091 and their bridge held 76.52 lbs.

Western Reserve Team B was the recipient of the Wade Harvey Design Award. The award was presented to the team that not only had a high efficiency ratio, but also scored high in the aesthetics of the structure and the complexity of its design.  The Aesthetics Award was presented to Mahoning County Career & Technical Center Team A. The Teamwork Award went to Trumbull County Career & Technical Center Team A.  The Most Improved High School Award was presented to Mineral Ridge Team A.

“Special thanks should be given to Mr. Ginnetti and Mr. Smith, the Mahoning and Trumbull County Engineer’s and our other sponsors on their continued efforts to introduce our children to the field of engineering in a hands-on capacity. Collectively, this year’s group of participants brought the most thought-out designs we’ve seen since the competition started in 2008,” says Anna Gasser, from ms consultants, Inc.

Sponsorship for the fifth annual competition was provided by: Jones-Stuckey LTD.; State Line Paving; ACA Engineering; Maraucci & Gaffney Excavating; Buckeye Civil Design; Beaver Excavating; Arcadis; M-E Companies; A.P. O’Horo Company; Thomas Fok & Associates; W.E. Quicksall & Associates; Euthenics; GPD Group; ms consultants; Trumbull County Engineer, Randy L. Smith; Mahoning County Engineer, Patrick T. Ginnetti; YSU Civil & Environmental Engineering and YSU’s Center for Transportation & Material Engineering.