In response to the competition’s increasing popularity, additional events will be held this year in the Northern Territory and Christchurch.
Last year, the event doubled in size with over 1 000 students registering for the competition. The winner of the 2011 Trans Tasman prize, first-time entrant King’s College in Auckland, built a bridge out of balsa wood, string, cardboard and glue, which held a massive load of 128 kg.
Using materials and guidelines supplied by Aurecon, year 8 and 9 students (year 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 weight. The competition will be held in 11 locations in 2012.
Bill Cox, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon says, “By introducing engineering to students in a fun and practical way, we hope to inspire them to consider engineering as a career in the future.”
“With ongoing shortages of technical and engineering skills in Australia and New Zealand, the aim of the bridge building competition is to show students at an early stage, when they can still choose science and maths electives, that these subjects can be enjoyable and challenging,” says Mr Cox.
Schools assemble at designated locations across Australia and New Zealand on ‘judging day’ held from 2-10 August, where the bridges are load-tested to destruction to the cheers of the crowd. 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.
Bryan Sapsworth, a physics teacher at King’s College, said, “The students really enjoy making something with their hands, and beating the Aussies. They have no idea what engineering really is until they see the engineers themselves and talk with them.”
Mr Cox adds, “Supported by industry sponsors, the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition helps to raise awareness of the role of engineering in the community.”