NORFOLK, Neb. – Bob and Jim were not quite as trustworthy at Northeast Community College recently. Three bridges made of popsicle sticks and glue - named Bob, Jim, and Trustworthy – were the latest to literally fall under the weight in testing their strength and engineering as part of a fun, annual tradition to end the academic year.
Drafting students enter bridge competition’s all-time Top 20
May 19, 2023 8:09 AM
The Drafting program’s 12th annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition is designed to demonstrate the structural integrity and structural concentration of the bridges the students spend weeks and months constructing. The competition, organized by Michael Holcomb, Northeast structural CAD (computer aided design)/drafting instructor, is held at the conclusion of the academic year each May.
“We want the bridges to hold 50 times their weight. Ideally, we want the students to get 100% (on the assignment) and the students over the years have been able to achieve that fairly easily,” he said. “And so it becomes more about bragging rights about who can hold the most.”
This year, the honor goes to Jaydn Weber, who’s 3 lbs., 11 oz. bridge “Trustworthy” held 2,005 lbs. - 539 times its weight. In addition to capturing the top spot in the friendly competition, Weber, Norfolk, earned the fourth position on the competition’s all-time Top 20 list. The record is held by Tyler Stubben, whose 3.40 lbs. bridge held 765.5 times its weight, balancing 2,607 lbs. in 2019. He was on hand for the competition and awarded Weber her prize - $100 and a certificate from the Nucor Detailing Center (NDC), which awards the overall winner from the competition each year. Stubben is employed by NDC.
One other student put his name in the Top 20 this year. “Bob,” constructed by Ethan Dohmen, Pierce, held 875 lbs., 227 times its 3.14 lbs. weight. That put him seventeenth on the all-time list. “Jim,” a 2.63 lbs. structure constructed by Hunter Raabe, Hadar, held 370 lbs. or 155 times its weight. All three students who competed this year earned the grade of “A on the assignment.
Each bridge must be at least nine inches wide and sit between two towers of concrete masonry units that sit 48 inches apart. The students use free weights and an eight-foot steel channel to place on their bridges until their reaching the breaking point. Students have the option to stop once they achieve the 100% target goal put on their creations, but all competitors over the years have continued to load on the weight until they can’t hold anymore.
A crowd of Northeast students, employees, families and friends were on hand to watch the competition in the College’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex. The event was recorded by Northeast Media Arts – Broadcasting students and may be viewed on the College’s You Tube Channel.
Northeast Community College structural drafting student Jaydn Weber reacts as her 3 lbs., 11 oz. bridge “Trustworthy” collapses after holding 2,005 lbs. - 539 times its weight in a competition at the College recently. In addition to capturing the top spot in the friendly competition, Weber, Norfolk, earned the fourth position on the competition’s all-time Top 20 list. She was awarded $100 and a certificate from the Nucor Detailing Center, which awards the overall winner from the competition each year.