East Bladen High and Clarkton School Take Statewide Honors in NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition Friday, April 20, 2012

RALEIGH – Teams from East Bladen High and Clarkton School of Discovery earned first-place honors and $500 each as winners in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s 2012 Model Bridge Building Competition.


Contestants were judged on oral presentations, written reports and design drawings, as well as on the structural efficiency of their balsa wood models. Entries were divided into high school and middle school categories. The contest took place Friday at NCDOT headquarters.

Winners are:

High Schools

1. East Bladen High, Elizabethtown

2. North Moore High, Robbins

3. Franklin Academy High, Wake Forest

4. Enka High, Candler


Middle Schools

1. Clarkton School of Discovery, Clarkton

2.  Polk County Middle, Mill Spring

3.  Four Oaks Middle, Four Oaks

4.  Highfalls Elementary, Highfalls


Second, third and fourth place finalists won $400, $300 and $200 respectively. The statewide winners were among 250 students who entered regional model bridge building contests in March.


The NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition helps students develop math, critical-thinking, research and presentation skills. It’s also a good way to introduce students to potential engineering careers, said state Highway Administrator Terry Gibson who spoke to the gathering.


“You might find out you’re interested in geotechnical engineering, coastal engineering, structural engineering – there are just so many wonderful careers if you like science and math,” Gibson said.


The teams presented skits to explain their bridge designs creatively, with some including poetry readings and musical performances. East Bladen’s team re-wrote The Night Before Christmas to include “visions of triangles dancing in our heads,” while North Moore students played music and sang about the bridges they might cross on a summer beach trip. 

But the key to becoming a winner was the structural efficiency portion of the contest, where engineers put the balsa wood designs to a stress test involving loads of sand. The winning bridges weighed less than an ounce yet were able to support at least 40 pounds of sand, said judge Randall Gattis of Sanford Contractors.


Other judges were Eddie Wetherill of Wetherill Engineering and Emily Murray of NCDOT’s Structural Management Division. Testers were Kevin Bowen and Wiley Jones of NCDOT’s Construction Unit. Prizes were provided by Carolinas Associated General Contractors.


For more information about this or future competitions, please contact Gail Herring in Human Resources at (919) 707-4442 or via email at gherring@ncdot.gov. To learn more, visit the website.




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