Interstate rivalry heightened by building bridges

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Interstate rivalry heightened by building bridges


26 March 2013

If you thought “building bridges” might help reduce interstate rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales, you’d be mistaken.

Engineering students from the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will go head-to-head in a battle for pride tomorrow (Wednesday 27 March) when the universities jointly hold their annual spaghetti bridge contests.

USC Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering Dr Terry Lucke said 20 teams of students from USC had constructed bridges – using only about 200g of thin spaghetti and superglue – that will be tested to determine which one has the best load-to-weight ratio.

The exciting event, at which the bridges will be put under increasing pressure until they snap or splinter, will be held at USC’s Innovation Centre Auditorium from 8-10am.

Last year’s USC spaghetti bridge competition winners Beau Norman and Jayden Walter produced a bridge that weighed only 231g, yet held a load of 76.2kg.

Dr Lucke said the interstate challenge should make this year’s event even more interesting.

“We’re expecting a big crowd to come along and show their support for our second-year Mechanics of Materials students as they demonstrate their engineering prowess,” he said.

“We want them to show those southerners how well Queenslanders can build a bridge.”

The competition is sponsored by Covey Associates and cash prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.
Dr Lucke said the contest was a great team-building exercise, which inspired creativity and provided students with a valuable learning experience.

“It demonstrates some basic principles of engineering because spaghetti reacts to the five internal stresses and strains within a structure – tension, compression, bending, shear and torsion,” he said.

“By constructing a model bridge, students are able to examine the effects of these forces individually and combined.”

— Terry Walsh

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