OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Sturdy bridges emerge from competition

04/13/1999

CORVALLIS - They may not be professional engineers yet, but high school students from around Oregon have already learned how to build model bridges out of balsa wood that can carry 1,000 times the weight of the materials used in their bridge.

Those and other accomplishments were the result of the 30th annual Holly Cornell Model Bridge Contest held last month at the Oregon State University College of Engineering.

"This contest is intended to promote interest in engineering and provides an opportunity to high school teachers to include for their students the concepts of design and testing of engineering structures," said Chris Bell, associate dean of the College of Engineering. "A considerable amount of skill is required to construct the models, and the students learn the importance of working to a specification."

More than 60 students attended from eight Oregon high schools, including Brookings Harbor, Canby, Crook County, Elmira, North Marion, Philomath, Thurston and Toledo. A total of 68 bridges were tested.

The most efficient bridge in this year's competition meeting the weight restriction of 25 grams was able to carry a load of 43 kilograms, or more than 1,700 times its weight. Twelve of the bridges tested carried at least 1,000 times their own weight.

This contest was staffed by the Professional Engineers of Oregon and sponsored by CH2M Hill Engineers, one of whose founders, Holly Cornell, was a 1938 OSU civil engineering graduate. Students from OSU's Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering also help to weigh, measure and test the model bridges.