CH2M-Hill, in association with Oregon State University’s (OSU) College of Engineering and School of Civil and Construction Engineering, sponsored and conducted the 46th annual model bridge contest on Saturday. The competition was originally named for one of CH2M-Hill’s founders, Holly Cornell, a 1938 graduate of OSU’s Civil Engineering Department, who provided a grant for the contest. The contest requires high school students to make a basswood bridge to a specification with the intent to carry as much load as possible.

The competition is intended to promote interest in engineering and provides an opportunity for high school teachers to introduce the concepts of design and testing of engineering structures to their students. Also, a considerable amount of skill is required to construct the models, and the students learn the importance of working to a specification.

The contest is “staffed” by professional engineers from CH2M-Hill and students from OSU’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering, many of whom are members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) stude¬nt chapter. OSU students help with setup, cleanup, registration, weighing, measuring, testing, and distribution of refreshments.

In total, students from five high schools participated in the 2015 contest: ACE Academy, Riverdale, Springfield, Nestucca, and Yoncalla.

CH2M-Hill and OSU hope that the contest inspires some high school students to study engineering at the University. However, the organizers consider their effort worthwhile if everyone enjoys the day at OSU and the interaction with college students, faculty, and practicing engineers. In attendance were approximately 29 high school students, 20 teachers and parents, 21 OSU student volunteers, two ASCE practitioner advisors, and the ASCE, faculty advisor. Our judges again this year were Devin Altman from CH2M-Hill and Dusty Andrews from Knife River.

The 2015 contest involved a number of ASCE student helpers from 7:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. 129 bridges were tested. Rules for the International Bridge Contest were used again this year. The most efficient bridge carried more than 5,000 times its weight of 9.4 g! Students from Riverdale placed first, second and third in the Conde McCullough Region and Nestucca placed first, second and third in the Holly Cornell Region.

The students finishing in first and second place in each region are eligible to enter the International Contest to be held later this year.

— Tom Miller, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering