American Society of Civil Engineers Hosting Scholastic ‘Bridge Building’ Competition Starting Feb. 26


Online competition, which offers $800 in cash scholarships, open to high school and middle school students throughout Northeastern PA

The Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (LVASCE) is inviting students to “Dream Big” as part of National Engineers Week by crafting engineering ‘masterpieces’ in the first annual Lehigh Valley Bridge Design Contest. This free, online competition gives high school and middle school students the opportunity to take part in a hands-on engineering design experience, while encouraging an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Competing students have a chance to win cash scholarship prizes totaling $800.

“We’re offering this contest to provide students from the Lehigh Valley and surrounding counties with an opportunity to learn about engineering by actually engaging in the engineering design process,” says Stephen Ressler, LVASCE Education and Professionals Integration Committee Chair. “Along the way, contestants will also learn a lot about bridges and how they work.

“The judging criteria for the contest are quite simple–each team must design a bridge, using our award-winning Bridge Designer software, which can be downloaded for free from our contest website. The design must pass a simulated load test, and the cost of the bridge must be as low as possible. The lowest cost wins. Both the load test and the cost calculation are performed automatically by the software.”

The competition will have two categories: one for middle schoolers (grades 6-8) and one for high school students (grades 9-12). Students must be currently enrolled in a school or legally homeschooled and studying at the 6th-12th grade level in Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne or Wyoming County.

Participants may compete individually or in teams of two. Each member of the top team in the High School Category will receive a $300 cash scholarship, and each member of the top team in the Middle School Category will receive a $100 cash scholarship.

Complete contest rules and entry procedures can be found at Teams should download the Bridge Designer software from the site and must submit their creations during the qualifying round, which begins Feb. 26, 1 p.m., and ends March 26, 1 p.m. See the website for complete details.

The top three teams in each category will then be invited to participate in the finals, taking place April 7 at the Banana Factory Arts Center, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem. During the finals, teams will have two hours to develop new designs using the bridge software. At the end of the event, winners will be chosen and prizes awarded.

The bridge design competition is part of ArtsQuest and the Lehigh Valley Section of American Society of Civil Engineers’ celebration of National Engineers Week at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. This week, the two organizations are offering free screenings of the acclaimed educational film, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” to area middle school and high school students. Each screening will include a talkback and Q&A session with a panel of professional engineers.

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