31 July 2012 - Will a school from Australia or New Zealand win the battle of the bridges?
Australia and New Zealand’s only bridge building competition for high schools kicks off in August. Students will be vying for cash prizes awarded by Aurecon, a top engineering, project management and technical services company, and industry sponsors.
Hundreds of teams from schools across Australia and New Zealand will be out to beat last year’s Trans-Tasman winner, first-time entrant King’s College from Auckland, whose bridge made out of balsa wood, string, cardboard and glue held a massive load of 128kg.
The initiative is designed to encourage students to take up STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to address the skills shortage of engineers in Australia and New Zealand. A recent survey found that 63 per cent of employers report difficulties recruiting suitably qualified engineers.
Bill Cox, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon, explained: “The Aurecon 2012 Bridge Building Competition has been created to inspire and challenge students to think laterally and solve a specific problem using engineering and technical skills.
“This year we have 738 students comprising 246 teams from 166 schools competing,” says Mr Cox.
Using materials and guidelines supplied by Aurecon, year 8 and 9 students (9 and 10 in New Zealand) design and build model bridges in teams of three. The bridges will be tested to destruction on ‘judging day’ in August to see which one holds the greatest load.
Bridge design experts from Aurecon and its clients assess the bridges for workmanship, creativity and visual appeal to determine the overall score.
Entry is free and cash prizes are awarded to schools and students with the highest scoring bridges at each event.
Mr Cox adds, “Supported by industry sponsors, the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition helps to raise awareness of the role of engineering in the community.”
For the first time events will be held this year in the Northern Territory and Christchurch.