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* News Release *
 
Thursday, January 31, 2008
For Immediate Release

FOURTH ANNUAL BRIDGE COMPETITION
BCEO and Hamilton City Schools

Students from the Hamilton City Schools Gifted Program gathered last Friday for the fourth annual bridge building competition sponsored by the Butler County Engineer's Office. Sixty-six students had constructed toothpick bridges intended for demolition by BCEO engineers who subjected each bridge to a load stress test.

Each student was given toothpicks, glue, and the required dimensions to build their bridges ahead of time, according to BCEO Design Engineer David Quimby, who organizes the annual event. Quimby and his fellow engineers then subjected each bridge to a load stress test. This process is known as point loading, which refers to applying all the weight to a single spot that engineers deem the most critical or vulnerable on a bridge -- typically mid-span. The bridges are point-loaded until they break to determine which are strongest.

The winners --
Aaron, Jasiel, and Anna.

This year's winner was Jasiel Brown from Harrison Elementary School whose bridge withstood 50 pounds before breaking. A very close second place went to Anna Rhodes of Buchanan Elementary at 49 pounds. The third strongest bridge withstood 44 pounds and was built by Aaron Spiers from Pierce Elementary School.

The activity is designed to teach students in a creative way about the physics of bridge design and the principles of engineering, according to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "But we also want the students to see some of the fun and the excitement that is in engineering," he said. "If we can entice a few aspiring engineers to pursue this field, that's a nice bonus. We really need to see more kids get into engineering."

Before the bridge demolitions begin, students are given a tour of the Engineer's Office that includes everything from Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) technique to a walk in the BCEO's 6,500-ton salt barn. One student noted that he felt "dwarfed" by the huge mountain of winter road salt that is stored inside the domed barn.

"It's been a fun and rewarding program that we'd like to see continue," Wilkens said. "We appreciate the partnership that has developed with the Hamilton City Schools to educate local students about bridge engineering and roadway safety."

Click on images to enlarge.
Students get a first hand look at BCEO facilities and equipment, like this camera truck.
A demonstration in the fine art
of surveying. .................................
Bridges await their fate. .................... .....................................
Here's another bridge. ........................
BCEO Design Engineer David Quimby talks about bridges.
Student looks on as BCEO engineers test her bridge.
A bridge meets its fate. ........................... ............................
Student and County Engineer Greg Wilkens look on as bridges are point loaded and broken.

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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