Young Minds Converge on IIT Main Campus for 2015 Chicago Regional Bridge Building Contest

Bright young minds with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) gathered on the Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus on January 27, for the 2015 Chicago Regional Bridge Contest. The students, who represented several Chicago-area high schools, set out to build the most efficient balsa wood bridges as part of their physics classes.

Each student was given a standard kit to build from and was only allowed to use conventional adhesives. During the competition, bridges were tested for efficiency by adding weight to each bridge until they reached their breaking point.

The Gacher Trophy was awarded to the students listed in the table below, who built the most efficient bridge from each region. The most efficient bridge overall was built by Ryan Hastings from Lincoln-Way West High School. He will represent the Chicago Region at the 2015 International Bridge Building Contest to be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon.

The competition is sponsored by Illinois Tech and hosted by Carlo Segre, Duchossois Leadership Professor; professor of physics; deputy director of Materials Research Collaborative Access Team (MRCAT); director of the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation (CSRRI) and deputy director of BioCAT and John Kallend, associate dean of accreditation for Armour College of Engineering and professor of materials engineering.

Alumnus George Krupa (CE ‘72, M.S. SE ‘77) was in attendance to judge the competition. Another alumnus, Bob Johnson (CE ‘69, M.S. CE ‘71), a longtime supporter of the competition, was on hand to take photos. All images in this article are courtesy of Johnson.

2015 Top Bridges

Name School Region Bridge Mass (g) Load Efficiency
Benjamin Benedict Whitney Young H.S. Chicago City 18.27 40 2189
Tara Wilson Fenwick H.S. North Suburbs 22.79 47 2062
Ryan Hastings Lincoln-Way West H.S. South Suburbs 13.17 37 2809

For a complete listing of scores click here.

Top Winners of the 2015 Bridge Contest

Top Winners of the 2015 Bridge Contest