Keeping an eye on Engineer Week
By Terri Rorke
The school bell rings signaling the next period at DeSales High School in Walla Walla, Wash. Students gather in the gym to test the strength of their self-made balsa-wood bridges during National Engineers Week (E-Week).
All eyes watch to see whose bridge will break first.
Every year Walla Walla River Valley students help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District celebrate E-Week in February. The District held seven bridge competitions from February 19-25 at area schools.
Students were allowed to use only one sheet of one-sixteenth-inch thick balsa wood and liquid-based glue for bridge construction. Each bridge was tested and scored using a test apparatus that measures structural efficiency, which is calculated by dividing the maximum supported load by the weight of the bridge.
Overall for the school competitions, Collin Flegel from Walla Walla Valley Academy won with a score of 3,556.
The District also held an employee bridge competition using balsa wood. Structural Engineer Jon Lomeland won the contest for his bridge that held more than 160 pounds with an overall bridge score of 5,017.
More than 350 bridges were tested in the District and school competitions combined.
Lincoln High School Teacher Erik Gordon in Walla Walla, Wash., said that balsa wood was his most preferred material yet. He noted that the raw material could be broken down in any way the contestant desired, which allowed more freedom and creativity than previous E-Week competitions he participated in.
According to Electrical Engineer Jeff Lyon, who coordinates the District’s E-Week, “I think the results show that if a contestant used their insight and creativity they could do amazing things. That’s engineering!”
Every year, the Nation’s engineers take a week to highlight the practice and accomplishments of engineers to show what can be done with a little science and imagination.
For more information about National Engineers Week go online to www.eweek.org.