New Zealand triumphs in Aurecon’s Trans-Tasman Bridge Building competition

Kings College team watches as their bridge is tested.

8 August 2011 - This year’s Aurecon Bridge Building competition finished on Friday with first time entrant, Kings College in Auckland, beating high schools from across Australia and New Zealand with an astonishing 128kg load held by its bridge built from balsa sticks, glue, cardboard and string.

This is the first time Auckland high schools have entered the competition and this entry has beaten out hundreds of high school entrants across Australia and New Zealand to win the Aurecon Trans-Tasman prize as well as the local Auckland prize.  

The nearest rival was the Kaniva College team from country Victoria in Australia which built a bridge that held 115.9kg.

Ian Sloane, Transport services leader for Aurecon in New Zealand, said: “This is a fantastic result for New Zealand as this is the first time we have held a national competition here. It is surprising that a first time entrant has beaten hundreds of schools across Australia and New Zealand who have previous experience in designing bridges for this competition and it is a testament to Kiwi ingenuity that Kings College has won the international competition for 2011.”

“The range of designs we have seen and the innovation exhibited by the students is a testament to the skill of our next generation of engineers,” said Bill Cox, General Manager – Australia and New Zealand.

“From the enthusiasm and passion we saw at this year’s event, I’m sure students will take their motivation back to the classroom and that this may ultimately transfer into engineers of the future,” added Bill.

The Trans-Tasman competition asks year 8, 9 and 10 students to build a bridge out of balsa wood, string, cardboard and glue.  At competition days held across Australia and New Zealand, the students bring their bridges to be tested to destruction. The bridge that bears the heaviest load wins the team a state prize and put them in the running to win the international prize.  Over 1,000 students participated in 334 teams from 218 schools. 

As winner of the Trans-Tasman prize, the team wins additional prize money of NZ$1,500 for the school and NZ$200 per team member as well as the opportunity to spend the day with engineers at Aurecon to find out more about the options offered in an engineering career. 

Rupert Grayston, Acting Chief Executive of Engineers Australia said: "The Aurecon 2011 Bridge Building Competition helps us meet the ongoing challenge of capturing the imagination of high school students about careers in engineering and sciences."

Aurecon organises this event in nine locations across Australia and New Zealand to coincide with Australian Engineering Week, a celebration of the diversity and depth of engineering held by industry body, Engineers Australia.

Competition – quick facts 

  • Each of the bridges entered was constructed during school hours from materials supplied by Aurecon: 8 balsa wood sticks 6.5mm x 6.5mm x 580mm long; 8 balsa wood sticks 6.5mm x 6.5mm x 330mm long; 1 cardboard tube 60d x 600l (mm); 1 tube of quick drying epoxy glue and 1 piece of 5m long string.
  • A total of 1,002 students participated with 334 teams from 218 schools registered to compete across Australia and New Zealand.
  • The competition complements Aurecon’s efforts to promote engineering as a career choice to secondary school students.

Industry sponsors and suppliers include:

  • Victoria: Engineers Australia, VicRoads, Major Projects Victoria, Scienceworks 
  • NSW: Engineers Australia
  • Central Queensland: Abigroup, QER, Cement Australia 
  • North Queensland: Port of Townsville, Museum of Tropical Queensland
  • South East Queensland: JF Hull Holdings, Department of Transport and Main Roads 
  • Queensland, St Laurence’s College
  • South Australia: Engineers Australia, Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure
  • Auckland and Wellington: New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Western Australia: Southern Cross Construction

Watch highlights from the 2010 competition on the Aurecon Channel on Youtube.