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The Power of Pasta: Students Compete in Spaghetti Bridge Competition at Clark State

The Power of Pasta: Students Compete in Spaghetti Bridge Competition at Clark State

July 7, 2016

Clark State Community College will host the Engineering Innovation Bridge Competition at 10:15 a.m., Friday, July 22 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

There are 11 Clark County students participating in this year’s Johns Hopkins University Engineering Innovation Program at Clark State.

“This program is a game changer for students in STEM fields,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Not only do students perform at a high level, but they have the ability to receive college credit for a freshman engineering course at one of the premier engineering programs in the country: Johns Hopkins University.”

The 4-week program concludes with the spaghetti bridge competition. “During the Engineering Innovation program, students are immersed in chemical, electrical, material and mechanical engineering labs,” said Kanesha Hall, STEM programming manager at Clark State. “The bridge competition is the culmination of a several-week-long project.”

Hall said the goal of the bridge competition is for students to successfully combine knowledge of materials, chemical and civil engineering into one project. “Graduates of the program have gone on to continue high school loaded with STEM classes; a few others went to Clark State, Wright State and Ohio State to pursue STEM fields. The bridge competition is just one example of ways Engineering Innovation students are prepared for STEM higher education.”

Students began testing the materials for their bridges during week one of the program. Throughout the four weeks, they work in small teams to build a bridge that is free-standing, weighs a maximum of 250 grams and a max height of 25 centimeters.

Students are graded on the success of their bridges. “The winning group does not receive a prize but will have bragging rights among the top bridges tested throughout the country,” said Hall. “Johns Hopkins University's Engineering Innovation program is held at over a dozen sites in the U.S.”

The Engineering Innovation bridge competition is open to the public. Hall encourages anyone interested in architecture, mathematics, technology and engineering to attend the event.

“The students are actually in the lab this week beginning to finalize bridge designs and calculations. Some groups will begin building this week,” she said.

The bridges are constructed from epoxy glue and different widths of cylindrical spaghetti. Students must apply calculus, materials testing and new knowledge of civil and chemical engineering design processes to create their bridges. The bridges must also be able to withstand the weight of a loading platform.

“If you are a student in middle school and high school interested in engineering you should definitely attend this free event,” said Hall. “This is a great way to be inspired by local youth who have tackled fun challenges in Engineering Innovation.”

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Laurie Means Executive Director, Marketing