Southeast Missouri high school students compete at MoDOT’s 19th annual bridge building competition

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Southeast Missouri high school students competed in the 19th Annual Bridge Building Competition put on by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Nov. 17 on the Southeast Missouri State University campus.

Juniors and seniors put their skills to work by crafting handmade wooden bridges that were put to the test at SEMO’s Academic Hall.

The competition challenges high-school juniors and seniors to design and construct the most efficient model bridge using limited materials, balsa wood, string, and glue.

The lightest bridges that carry the greatest loads are named winners.

Prizes were up for grabs for top bridge building, the most aesthetically-pleasing bridge, and the electronic bridge contest.

“The exposure of engineering, being able to sit down and use engineering thoughts on building a bridge and getting a little exposed to that,” said Craig Compas, district traffic engineer for MoDOT. “The engineering field needs a lot more people involved, we’re down a lot, so nationally engineering needs assistance.”

Thursday’s winners included:

  • 1st – Ayné Held – Chaffee
  • 2nd – Kendall Marshall – Oak Ridge
  • 3rd – Karson Ward – Oak Ridge
  • 4th – Tanner Slinkard – Oak Ridge
  • 5th – Brock Hobeck – Oak Ridge

The most aesthetic bridge award went to Ayné Held of Chaffee High School.

The computer-based electronic bridge award was presented to Noland Beussink of Leopold High School.

The top schools with the best overall performace will be given cash prizes donated by the SE Chapter Transportation Employee Association of Missouri.

Prize donations and supply sponsorships were made possible by the SE Chapter Transportation Employee Association of Missouri, SE Chapter of Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, Three Rivers College, Bacon Farmer Workman Engineering & Testing, and the Southeast Coalition for Roadway Safety.

MoDOT also partnered with Arkansas State University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Southeast Missouri State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Southern Illinois University to offer seniors interested in civil engineering up to $10,000 in scholarships.

Compas also states: “You know we’ve been down here a couple years due to Covid, and I think get kids hands-on experience and working with the bridge and the balsa wood and glue, and maybe give them a spark of interest in engineering is what we’re trying to do. I think it’s a good thing.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics projects employment growth for these workers, with nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers over by 2026.

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