2018 Bridge Design and Build Contest kicks off this month

Students from across the state have the chance to compete in the 2018 West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest. Registration is open to all middle- and high-school students in West Virginia.

This STEM opportunity allows students to gain an introduction to engineering and understand how engineers design structures, but students do not need to have an engineering background to compete, according to Dr. Wael Zatar, dean of the university’s College of Information Technology and Engineering.

Jennifer Dooley, committee member and leader of educational outreach special projects for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said the West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest partners are happy to provide free entry to the competition.

“The program will be broken down into two stages,” Dooley said. “The qualifying round began on Oct. 2 and will end March 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.  During this round, students can enter the contest by themselves or in teams of two. The classroom presentation only takes one class period, but some schools have used this as a club activity and met more frequently.  Once the students know how to use the software, they can practice and submit their designs from any computer.”

At the end of the qualifying round on March 30, top teams will be invited to compete at the final competition May 12, 2018. Participants will be notified about being a statewide finalist by April 4, 2018, and will be mailed a balsa bridge kit to build. The final competition will be held on Marshall University’s Huntington campus on May 12, and will include both the software competition and the balsa bridge testing.

The contest offers in-class presentations to help educate teachers and students about the competition. Teachers can request in-class visits on the contest website. The deadline for visit requests is March 1, 2018, but participants are encouraged to schedule the visit as early as possible to provide adequate preparation time for students.

“This contest aims to be a source of inspiration to all students and provide a taste of engineering to those who are interested in the subject,” Dooley said.  “Many students who have participated in this contest have gone to college for STEM-related professions. Organizers look forward to welcoming new faces at the event and engaging in a battle of design and creativity.”

For more information about event registration, visit the West Virginia Bridge Design and Build website at www.wvbridgedesignandbuildcontest.com or connect through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.