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Australia’s future innovators build bridges to better engineering skills

Aurecon 2016 Bridge Building Competition

28 July 2016 - Judging of the 250 entries to the 2016 Aurecon Bridge Building Competition has begun, with the first of eight judging events around the country commencing today at the Adelaide Judging Day of entries from 13 schools at the Art Gallery of SA.

The Aurecon Bridge Building Competition helps some 1,000 Year 8 and Year 9 High School students bring their ideas to life by encouraging them to develop their understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by building a bridge using icy pole sticks, string, glue and cardboard. 

Judging days are being held throughout late July and August in Gladstone, Mackay, Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne (as well as in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand), and local winners announced in each region. 

The competition not only provides students with a bridge engineering challenge to solve, but also provides the avenue of feedback from expert judges. The battle for the cash prizes will be played out in front of all local participating schools at each judging location, with the spectacle of seeing the bridges load-tested to destruction. 

STEM subjects are the building blocks for the inquisitive, adventurous and inventive to make engineering and technology work, but are also considered to be an important building block for the future of the Australian economy.

According to Australia’s Chief Scientist, advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences in the past 20 to 30 years has underpinned $330 billion a year of Australia’s economic output. STEM employees have also been found to be some of the most innovative workers, and their skills in active learning and critical thinking are highly valued. However, employers have reported difficulty in recruiting STEM qualified staff. 

“Aurecon believes that by enabling students to get hands on and learn the basic principles of engineering, our global engineering organisation is helping to proactively develop Australia’s next generation of engineers,” said Mr William Cox, Aurecon’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand.

Engineering is a great career choice for the youth of today offering a strong likelihood of employment in a diverse range of fields,” he said. “Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, for example, estimates that within the next decade approximately 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries will demand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).”

Bridge and structural engineering experts from Aurecon and competition supporters have been appointed as judges to assess each bridge for workmanship, creativity, visual appeal and functionality to determine an overall score.  New prizes for award categories have been added to the competition in 2016 for an all-round, innovation, efficiency and strength awards.

New building materials, testing and scoring mechanisms and award categories are a few of the clever innovations that a group of Monash University engineering students designed for this year’s competition.   

Winners in each region are announced on the day after the testing of all bridges has been completed and scores tallied. 


Aurecon would like to acknowledge the support of the following organisations in the running of the 2016 Aurecon Bridge Building Competition:

  • Sydney: Engineers Australia
  • Brisbane: The Department of Transport and Main Roads, Edmond Rice Performing Arts Centre (ERPAC)
  • Melbourne: VicRoads, Scienceworks, Spotswood, Melbourne
  • Gladstone: Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB), Central Queensland University Gladstone
  • Mackay: Field Engineers & FKG Group, Mackay Regional Council, Vassallo Construction Pty Ltd, DGH Engineering, Central Queensland University Mackay
  • Darwin: Charles Darwin University, BMD Construction

Judging events

Date                                      Location

No. of Schools 
Thurs, 28 Jul  Art Gallery of South Australia (Radford Auditorium), North Terrace, Adelaide 13
Wed, 3 Aug Edmond Rice Performing Arts Centre (ERPAC) at St Laurence’s College, 82 Stephens Road, South Brisbane 22
Wed, 3 Aug  Scitech, City West Centre, Corner Railway Street and Sutherland Street, West Perth, WA  26
Thurs, 4 Aug Building 1, Central Queensland University Australia, 151 Boundary Road, Ooralea, Mackay Qld  16
Fri, 5 Aug Rex Metcalf Theatre and Foyer, Leo Zussino Building, Central Queensland University, Bryan Jordan Drive, Gladstone, Qld  11 
Tues, 9 Aug The Domain Theatre, Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, NSW  71
Thurs, 11 Aug Scienceworks, 2 Booker Street, Spotswood, Melbourne Vic  47
Fri, 26 Aug Charles Darwin University, Ellengowan Drive, Casuarina, Darwin, NT 

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