Students use noodles to build better bridges

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Students use noodles to build better bridges

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Published on 1 April 2014

Spaghetti, superglue and a piece of string – that’s the simple recipe for a fascinating engineering challenge to be held at the University of the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday 2 April.

USC’s annual spaghetti bridge challenge will see more than 15 teams of Civil and Mechanical Engineering students go head-to-head in a battle to see who can design and build the strongest bridges.

Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering Dr Selvan Pather said the second-year students would use only about 200g of thin spaghetti, superglue and –for the first time this year – string, to build bridges that will be tested to determine which has the best load-to-weight ratio.

Students and staff are invited to watch this exciting event which will see the bridges put under increasing pressure until they snap or splinter. Testing of the bridges will be held at the open deck on Level One of USC’s Building C from 1-2.30pm.

Dr Pather said the challenge was aimed at having fun while providing a very valuable and practical learning experience.

“Basically, the students will put into practice the concepts they have learned thus far about how structures carry load,” Dr Pather said.

The benchmark has been set high in the past including one winning bridge that weighed only 231g, yet held a load of 76.2kg.

However, Dr Pather said the introduction of a five-metre length of string to the materials available to this year’s challenge was a game changer.

The spaghetti bridge challenge is sponsored by Covey Associates with cash prizes to be awarded for the strongest structure and for best design and construction.

— David Cameron

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