Students put architectural skills to test during Spaghetti Bridge Competition

BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University is hosting its ninth annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition on Friday, Feb. 29, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room.

High School students from all over Michigan are eligible to compete in the multi-faceted competition that asks teams of four to base their architectural design on an existing or previously built bridge. First, using only 2 pounds of spaghetti and three lasagna noodles, teams bring an accurate reproduction of the bridge to be judged in the authentic bridge evaluation.

Teams must also bring a written report on the history behind their bridges, including dimensions, year(s) of construction, cost, and sociological and environmental aspects to the bridge.

Next, teams present an oral presentation about their bridge to a panel of judges, as well as an audience. Team members take turns role-playing, representing both the governmental agencies that wish to build the bridge and the construction company hired to complete the bridge. Bridge design, acquisition of property, traffic patterns and environmental issues are all addressed.

Finally, teams end the competition by constructing an on-site replica of their bridge for the load-bearing portion of the competition. As an audience watches, each team adds weight to their bridge until the structure breaks. Last year’s winning bridge held more than 99 pounds. Visitors are welcome to the Dome Room to watch this portion of the competition on Saturday, March 1, from 11 to 1 p.m.

Awards for individual portions of the competition range from 1st through 5th place, with cash awards ranging from $300 to $50. Awards of four $2,000 scholarships to FSU for 1st place, four $1,000 scholarships to FSU for 2nd place and four $500 scholarships to Ferris for 3rd place are given to the overall winners.

Last year’s 1st place winners were Big Rapids High School’s Swansabie Experience, while another Big Rapids High School team, the Ninja, took 2nd place. Coming in 3rd was Sacred Heart Academy’s Nutty Noodle Engineers.

Of the 21 teams registered for this year’s competition, 14 schools are returning to compete again. They are: Big Rapids High School, Clinton High School (two teams), Harper Creek High School, Kenowa Hills High School, MOISD Math/Science/ Technology Center, Reed City High School, Sacred Heart Academy and Whitefish Township Community Schools.

Those veterans will be joined by: Kensington Woods High School, Pontiac Academy for Excellence, Swartz Creek Academy, Universal Academy and Zion Christian School.

15 February, 2008