Ferris Gears up for 13th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition

Spaghetti bridge CompetitionDon’t come hungry to Ferris State University’s Spaghetti Bridge Competition. This pasta is not for dinner.

Ferris will host the 13th annual competition from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room. Eighteen four-member teams from high schools all over Michigan will compete in the multi-faceted competition designed to show off their building talents and possibly win some cash or earn Ferris academic scholarships.

The Spaghetti Bridge Competition, sponsored by the Academic Affairs office, challenges teams to create an accurate, scaled reproduction of a bridge using only two pounds of spaghetti and three lasagna noodles.

Students compete in four categories: an authentic bridge display, an oral presentation, a written report and a load-bearing competition. The event fosters teamwork and problem-solving, said Beth Reynolds, who coordinates the event and is an adjunct professor in Ferris’ Languages and Literature department.

“These kids show so much potential,” Reynolds said. “It’s great to see how exuberant the students are – they are literally thinking outside the box.”

The competition’s first day focuses on judging each team’s creation of an accurate reproduction of an authentic bridge, a written report on its history, including dimensions, construction, cost and sociological and environmental aspects, and an oral presentation. 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. Design, acquisition of property, traffic patterns and environmental issues all will be addressed, Reynolds said.

The second day features construction of a bridge of each team’s own design for the load-bearing portion of the competition. Weight held by the pasta bridges can reach more than 100 pounds.

“It’s interesting to see which engineering principles hold up under short, harried circumstances,” said Reynolds, who noted that each team practices as many as 60 hours for this portion of the competition. “They come up with a load-bearing bridge of their own design, but we throw in a mystery element that day. Sometimes it works for them, and sometimes it’s more challenging.

“This is a gregarious bunch of kids. Things get lively.”

Each student on the first-place team will receive a $2,000 scholarship to Ferris. Second-place team members will get $1,000 and the third place team receives four $500 scholarships.  In addition, classroom cash awards range from $300 for first place to $50 for fifth place.

The 2011 winner in the load-bearing competition was made by a team from Big Rapids High School in Big Rapids. The replica held 144 pounds.

The event is open to the public. For more information, contact Reynolds at (231) 591-3077 or email reynoldsb@ferris.edu.

For more information about the Spaghetti Bridge Competition, visit: http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/othersrv/sbridges/

Last updated: 07-24-2012