Glencliff High sweeps Saturday’s ASCE Nashville Bridge Building Contest

From left, Edward B. Dunning accepting for first-place winner Jesus Gutierrez Morales, second-place winner Elston Rajasombath and third-place winner Lizeth Padron Becerra, all of Glencliff High School. (Heidi Hall/Vanderbilt University)

No sound pierces like the first creak from a model bridge struggling under the weight of concrete — a silent crowd waiting to see how much it holds before breaking into pieces.

But that’s all part of the fun at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers Nashville Bridge Building Competition, which was held Saturday at Vanderbilt University’s Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability after being delayed a week due to icy weather.

Eleven competitors from three Nashville high schools started with a tour of the lab, then took turns seeing how much weight could be suspended from their small, wooden bridges, adding a minimum of 200 grams at a time.

Click here for a photo gallery of the competition.

ASCE members Janey Camp, research assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Tony Snyder of Snyder Engineering coordinated the event with the help of several volunteers.

Entries in Saturday's ASCE Bridge Building Competition, waiting to be weighed. (Heidi Hall/Vanderbilt University)

“The bridge competition encourages students to learn troubleshooting skills and often basic structural design skills,” Camp said. They can also compare their designs with those of other students’ to see what works and what doesn’t, she said.

The judges’ formula compares the weight of the bridge to the weight it holds and comes up with an efficiency score. Saturday’s first-place winner was Jesus Gutierrez Morales, whose Glencliff High engineering teacher, Edward B. Dunning, accepted the trophy and cash prize for him. Morales’ efficiency score was 1251.19. Elston Rajasombath took second place with a bridge efficiency of 1196.44, and Lizeth Padron Becerra took third place with 869.72. All are Glencliff High juniors.

The other competitors were:

4. Melissa Claudio Negrete, Glencliff, 732.21
5. Steve Uria, Glencliff, 630.67
6. Eric Jaramillo, Overton, 531.10
7. Brinton Hoover, Montgomery Bell Academy, 518.17
8. Gloria Pedro, Overton, 301.21
9. Jose Moreno, Overton, 259.45
10. Miguel Arias, Overton, 174.42
11. Vincent Czubko, Overton, 158.19

Last year’s winner was from Montgomery Bell Academy. Winning schools house a traveling trophy for the year.

Lizbeth Padron Becerra carefully adds more weight to her structure. (Heidi Hall/Vanderbilt University)


Heidi Hall, (615) 322-6614
On Twitter @VUEngineering