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Drafting student cracks bridge competition's top 5

Drafting student cracks bridge competition's top 5

NORFOLK, NE – Although it occasionally cracked and popped like a popular breakfast cereal, David Avery’s structure of popsicle sticks and glue held hundreds of pound of weight for several minutes before it came crashing down. But that was plan.

The Norfolk man was one of two students enrolled in Northeast Community College’s drafting program to participate in its bridge competition recently. The event is designed to show the structural integrity of the bridge. The competition, organized by Michael Holcomb and Lynnette Frey, Northeast’s CAD/drafting instructors, is normally held the last week of the academic year each May, however, Avery and Toby Svatos were finished with classes in December.

Avery’s 3.68-pound bridge held 262.77 times its weight; balancing 900 pounds of free weights before it came crashing down. The accomplishment put him at fourth place on the competition’s Top 20 All-Time list. The record was shattered last year when a 3.78-pound bridge built by Austin Berg, of Austin, TX, held 1,456 pounds of free weight and sections of railroad track – 385.06 times its weight.

The 2.59-pound bridge constructed by Svatos, of Neligh, held 300 pounds of weight or 126.65 times its weight.

“Dave and Toby were a couple of awesome students and I will really miss them,” Holcomb said.

Both received an A on the project because their structures held at least 50 times its weight. Avery and Svatos were two of the first students enrolled through the program’s initiative to have a dual start, which is why they are December graduates this year.

Holcomb said, “It’s always a thrill for me to have a student exceed the 200 times weight ratio. That means Dave has earned a spot on the “200 times” trophy.”

Avery will also be in contention to presented $100 and a certificate from the Nucor Detailing Center, which awards the overall winner of this event and the year’s final competition held in May 2019.

Northeast offers an architectural, structural and mechanical drafting programs, where students learn to design residential, commercial structures and machine parts using two-dimensional and three-dimensional CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Students are trained to develop detailed working drawings for use in manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Other areas covered in the concentration 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 media arts program streamed the annual bridge competition live on KHWK TV on CableOne Channel 20. The rebroadcast may be seen on YouTube at



                                                             PHOTO CUTLINE


David Avery, of Norfolk, (third from right) watches as his bridge made of popsicle sticks and glue collapses after it held 900 pounds of weight or 263 times its weight during Northeast Community College’s drafting program bridge competition recently. Avery’s bridge held enough weight for a period of time to place his fourth on the competition’s all-time Top 20 list.