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Civil Engineering Seniors Earn Honors in International Bridge Building Contest

December 4, 2012

Rose-Hulman senior civil engineering students Chaela Jean and Jessica Lundin earned fourth-place honors in a recent international bridge building contest that attracted competitors from Japan, Columbia, Turkey, and the United States.

             Bridge Contest 2012
  Bridge Builders: Chaela Jean (left) and Jessica Lundin earned fourth-place honors in Rose-Hulman's first entry in an international bridge building competition.

The challenge was to build a truss bridge that could span one meter, weigh less than 100 grams and use only materials made of pulp derived from wood. The multicultural educational experience tested students' creativity and technical skills, without requiring expensive materials and laboratory facilities.

The bridge built by Jean and Lundin was a three-legged space truss structure made out of compressed cardboard tubes that held 9.1 kg. It finished behind entries by students from the University Minnesota, first place; Japan's Tohoku University, second; and Japan's Yokahama National University, third.

"We took a trial-and-error approach to the design, but the biggest areas in our early designs were stability and constructability," stated Lundin.

This was Rose-Hulman's first entry in this annual competition, which involved undergraduate- and graduate-level students. The testing for each college's bridge was webcast internationally.

"It was quite a fun and fantastic spectacle," admitted Matthew Lovell, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering. He was aware of the competition from his work at Purdue University's Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. "We were able to see tests live from all over the world. It was also a pleasure to see engineering students from all over the globe sharing a great learning experience," he stated.

Other colleges competing this year included Japan's Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya University and Kyushu Sangyo University, Universidad Nacional de Columbia, Turkey's Izmir Institute of Technology and Purdue University.