The annual Bridge Building Competition will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Victor M. Richel Student Commons on Union County College’s Cranford campus at 1033 Springfield Ave.
Teams from 11 high schools, including Cranford High School, are expected to participate, with a total of more than 20 teams building models at the novice or advanced level.
The following high schools will have teams participating in this year’s competition: Bogota High School, Edison High School, Elizabeth High School, Hillside High School, JP Stevens High School, New Providence High School, Teen Technology (home school), Union County Magnet High School, Union County Vocational Technical High School, and Warren County Technical High School.
All teams are to build a Through Truss bridge using only wooden tongue depressors, wooden dowels, plastic wire ties, string, and glue. Bridges built by the Novice teams are about forty-eight inches long and by the Advanced teams are about seventy-two inches long. The teams are given six weeks to design and build the bridges. The length of the bridge is varied each year, allowing students to compete again.
On the day of the competition, the bridges are first weighed on a scale and then supported between tables and then weighed down with 1 ¼ pound free weights (standard barbell weights) hung from paper clips. All bridges continue to receive weights until they collapse. Bridges are rated for strength and efficiency, encouraging teams to use the minimum materials possible. Each team is required to provide a list of the all the materials used. Finally, a formula is used to factor the final breaking load of each bridge with the amount of material used, to determine the winner.
The competition is hosted by the Engineering, Technology and Architecture Department at Union County College. The competition was developed as a means to involve high school students in something challenging, interesting, creative, and fun, and to expose them to principles taught in the engineering programs at Union County College.
Editor's Note: This article is a press release from Union County College.