Engineering club prepares for bridge competition


Civil Engineer for MDOT David Evans III helps members of the engineering club with their bridge.

Caroline Crews, Features Editor

The OHS engineering club is participating in a bridge building competition sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The competition will be held in Pearl in April, and the club members have already started constructing their bridge.

Team members include juniors Luke Kelly, David Evans IV, and Drew Hester. They have been working on their bridge for about a month, meeting a few times each week.

“It’s been fun working with the other guys,” Luke said. “We can talk about our ideas. Some things that some of us might not have thought of, others do think of.”

There are numerous requirements for the team’s bridge to qualify, from the materials that they are allowed to use to the type of bridge that they must create. The goal is for the bridge to be able to withstand as much weight as possible without breaking.

They must use glue and balsa wood to build the bridge. Luke noted that balsa wood is a weak type of wood, making it difficult to build a strong bridge. In addition, they were only given a limited amount of balsa wood to use, further contributing to the challenge of the task.

The bridge must also be a tied arch bridge, which Luke described as just a regular bridge with an arch on top.

“We have a limited amount of wood we can use,” Luke said, “so we’re thinking that since it stretches across the base we’re going to put most of the wood into the base and as little as possible into the arch, because the arch is just what makes it that type of bridge and it doesn’t really do as much when it comes to if the bridge is going to break or not.”

On March 1, David Evans III, a civil engineer who works for MDOT and the father of Evans IV, visited the school to take a look at the design of the bridge and give the team tips about how to improve it.

“I wanted him to come because he had come last year when we built our catapult and I knew that he was a civil engineer and he worked for MDOT,” club sponsor Susan Kelly said, “so it was just a perfect fit for him to come.”

Evans III thinks that the competition will be beneficial for the aspiring engineers because “it will teach them the design aspects and the different components it would take to build bridges.”

The club members had to apply for their bridge to be entered into the competition, and they only heard that they had been accepted about a week ago, though they had already started building the bridge. Susan, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, thinks that this competition will be a valuable learning experience for the aspiring engineers.

“Its a great way for the kids to learn about the engineering process and to work as a group and to create something,” Susan said. “That’s what engineers do. They work together to create things.”