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Record-breaking win by Sydney school in international bridge building contest

L-R: Charles Milazzo with the winning team, St Patrick

Charles Milazzo with the winning team, St Patrick's College

16 August 2012 - Against fierce competition from schools across Australia and New Zealand, St Patrick’s College from Sydney triumphed at Aurecon’s bridge building competition which finished last week.

Hundreds of students across Australia and New Zealand last week put their balsa wood, string, cardboard and glue-based bridge designs to the test.

The winning bridge withstood an incredible 202 kg, the highest load ever recorded at the competition. Designed by Dylan Butler, Daniel Gouvela and Jack Lang from St Patrick's Sutherland in Sydney's south, the bridge outshone all other entrants. As the international winner, the team collects $3000 for their school and individual prizes for each team member of $400.

The judges noted that the reasons for the high load capacity achieved were excellent workmanship in the construction, very good connections, and the choice of a funicular polygon as the main structural form. The bridge also scored highly for innovation and aesthetics.

John Hilton, Bridges Technical Director at Aurecon and competition judge explains, “The high load score was achieved as a result of equal load sharing between the arches and providing very close symmetry across the arch. The string connections were a potential weak point, but this was overcome by looping the string where possible and by anchoring the string through tiny drilled holes through the thickness of the polygon arches.”

Anthony Hatton science coordinator at St Patrick’s College said that the school was blown away with the result. “We’re really proud of the boys - they did it off their own bat,” he said. Inspired by last year’s state winners, the students modified and improved on the previous design to put together the record-breaking bridge.

John Hilton adds “In essence, it was a great choice of structural form, which was well executed in design detail and fabrication. Congratulations to St Patrick’s College!”

At each venue around the country, students, teachers and organisers cheered as individual bridges were loaded with weight.

“With ongoing severe shortages of technical and engineering skills in Australia,  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 fun and challenging,” said Bill Cox, General Manager – Australia and New Zealand, Aurecon.

“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 Mr Cox.

Aurecon organises this event across Australia and New Zealand to promote engineering as a career option to students.

Visit the Bridge Building image gallery on Aurecon's Facebook page.


  • Auckland: Selwyn College - 73.4kg
  • Christchurch: Ashburton College - 36kg
  • New South Wales: St Patrick’s College - 202kg (international winner)
  • Northern Territory: Dripstone Middle School - 62kg
  • Queensland (central): Emerald Christian College - 69.1kg
  • Queensland (north): The Cathedral School - 38.1 kg
  • Queensland (south-east): St John's Anglican College - 61.9kg
  • South Australia: Cabra Dominican College - 34.5kg
  • Victoria: Kaniva College - 135.7kg
  • Wellington: Bishop Viard College - 30.1kg
  • Western Australia: Winthrop Baptist - 107.2kg


  • Abigroup Limited
  • VicRoads
  • New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Engineers Australia
  • Institution of Civil Engineers Australia
  • HEB Construction Limited
  • Civil Mining and Construction Pty Ltd
  • Cement Australia
  • Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
  • Consult Australia
  • JF Hull
  • Scienceworks
  • St Laurence’s College
  • Museum of Tropical Queensland
  • Central Queensland University
  • Southern Cross Constructions


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