Studies Become Reality in Tech Bridge Building Contest

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oakland Tech notched its 20th Annual Model Bridge engineering contest in a roomful of students, volunteers and unlikely construction materials.

The contest is a culmination of a semester's study by students in Tech's well-known Engineering Academy. The academy, a "school within a school," is an extremely rigorous program that attracts and educates the "best and brightest" high school students in Oakland.

Each year, the contest gets more exciting than the last. This year saw another emotion-packed event as students put their book learning to a reality-based real-world challenge: building a bridge out of specific materials, then testing the bridge's stability against that of others constructed by classmates.

Each bridge builder or builder team works with the same materials: one ounce of balsa wood and Elmer's glue, and a small spool of thread to design and build a suspension bridge to a specified set of standards and specifications.

Finished bridges are subjected to survival stress tests as increasing weight is added to the structure.

The look on students' faces as their model bridges were loaded with more and more weight reflected anxiety, dejection or elation as each bridge was tested. Volunteer engineers and sponsors help with the contest, setting up displays, hanging weights and clearing the display area of the debris of failed attempts.

The winning model bridge was loaded to an impressive capacity of 60.0 pounds.


Oakland Technical High School thanks these volunteer sponsors and engineers and their supportive companies and agencies:

City of Oakland - Public Works Agency
American Society of Civil Engineers - Younger Members Forum
Oakland Unified School District - Oakland Technical High School - Engineering Academy

Peter Chun, Transportation Engineer, City of Oakland
Derrick Lind, Liftech
Grant Iwamoto, HNTB
Vladimir Calugaru, InfraTerra, Inc.
Derek Schubert
We couldn't have done it without the outstanding work by these dedicated volunteer engineers. Encouraging young Californians to enter the engineering field is more important than ever.

John W. Bliss, P.E., LEED AP
Vice President