Engineering Now .: Volume 3 - Edition 4 .: November 2006

Polar Stick Bridge Competition 2006

By Audrey Korol

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Michael Bartlett holds up a bridge after it was tested with 10 kg weights at the Annual Polar Stick Bridge Competition.

Students representing Western, Fanshawe College and several area high schools competed head to head November 24 in the 2006 Polar Stick Bridge Competition.

A total of twenty-three bridges, constructed from 1 kg of Polar Sticks, 2 bottles of glue and 1 spool of floss, were put to the test for the coveted title of Best Overall Bridge. In order to receive this honour, each bridge was measured, weighed and tested with 10 kg weight plates, loaded one by one to the base of the bridge, until the bridge ultimately breaks.

As each plate was loaded on the bridge, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Michael Bartlett offered a play by play commentary of the bridge’s condition. Bartlett explained the design of each bridge and identified areas of weakness in the structure that caused the bridge to collapse.

The majority of bridges failed before the maximum 310 kg of plates could be loaded. Three bridges however were strong enough to remain standing with the maximum load. “It seems that we have a problem,” says Bartlett. “We can’t break these bridges! So we’ll have to set up a hydraulic ram to collapse them.”

The pressure was on for the three finalists who each got a chance to collapse their bridge with the hydraulic system. Moments later, the winner of the Best Overall Bridge was awarded to Julia Fediw, whose bridge “Hercules” held 348 kg.

Fediw, a grade 12 student from Oakridge Secondary School, is no stranger to Western’s Polar Stick Bridge Competition. Last year, Fediw’s bridge won Best High School Design. Her strategy coming into this year was to change the placement of the bridge’s deck. “Last year, my bridge broke because the deck was on the bottom,” says Fediw. “This year, I put it on the top.” Next year, Fediw hopes to participate in the competition as a Western Engineering student.

Other award recipients include: Isak Wall for Best Built Bridge, and five students from A.B. Lucas Secondary School and their bridge “Pink Floyd” for Most Aesthetically Pleasing Bridge.


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.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Telephone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808