Drafting student earns top five honors in bridge competition

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by jamesc  5/11/2016 11:14:46 AM -- 

NORFOLK – A Northeast Community College drafting student earned bragging rights recently. Jacob Forbes entered the record books after he won the Drafting program’s tenth annual bridge building competition.

His 3.13-pound bridge of popsicle sticks and glue held 211 times its weight; balancing 809 pounds of free weights and a small section of railroad track before collapsing into a pile of rubble. It puts Forbes, Brunswick, fifth on the competition’s all-time list. The record is held by Adam Krueger, Plainview, whose 2.31-pound bridge held 630 pounds, or 272 times its own weight in 2013.

Forbes was one of six second year drafting students to take part in this year’s competition. He received $100 dollars and a certificate from Nucor. Austin Kroupa, Pierce, was second after his 2.12-pound bridge held 200 pounds or 73 times its weight. Michaela Stelling, Sioux Center, IA, finished third. Her 1.14-pound bridge held 130 pounds or 70.5 times its weight. 

Michael Holcomb and Harry Lindner, Northeast’s CAD/drafting instructors on the Norfolk campus, organize the annual competition. Holcomb said the students created blueprints for their bridges and then constructed them.

“The students enjoy doing this. Each student has to draw their design first and then they build the bridge, so there are some added educational benefits that come out of it. It teaches them that even though they sketch it out, the end result doesn’t always work out like the think it will. This is a lot harder than it looks.”

Each student was also allowed to use fish line in their structures, but interestingly just one of the bridges contained fish line along with the sticks and glue.  

If the students choose to go the extra distance and not take their bridges home intact, they could go for the record, which they all attempted. Forbes was the only student in this year’s competition who made it on to the record list, which goes back five years. Records were not kept in the first four years of the annual competition.

The competition moved to a new venue this year. It was originally held in one of the drafting program’s classrooms in the Maclay building on the Norfolk campus and later moved to the theatre in the Cox Activities Center. This year, the competition was outdoors in Paradise Courtyard, adjacent to the College Welcome Center.  

The Northeast Drafting program has two concentrations available to students. One is architectural drafting where students learn to design residential and commercial structures using two-dimensional and three-dimensional CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. The second concentration offered at the College Center in South Sioux City, by Instructor Danny Whitlock, is the industrial facility concentration.  Students are trained to develop detailed working drawings for use in the manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Other areas covered in both concentrations are preparing material-takeoffs and cost estimates, construction surveying, developing building information models (BIM). After graduating from Northeast, students may find employment with architectural and engineering firms, general contractors, facility and building maintenance engineering departments.

Students in the Northeast broadcasting and audio recording technology programs streamed the competition live. The program can be viewed anytime at www.khwkhawktv.com in the “Fun Videos” section under the “Hawk TV Videos” tab. 




Northeast Community College drafting student Jacob Forbes, Brunswick, (right) and others watch as his popsicle stick-built bridge collapses under the weight of 809 pounds. Forbes’ bridge held 211 times its weight in the annual competition, putting him fifth second on the competition’s all-time list.

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