Since 2000, the N.C. Department of Transportation – in partnership with Carolinas Associated General Contractors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina – has hosted the statewide Model Bridge Building Competition to encourage students to develop the math and science skills that are used in transportation, construction and engineering careers.
Working in teams, students look at methods of brainstorming and researching ideas as well as designing and building a model truss bridge. Students present their model bridges to a panel of judges and are scored based on a written report, oral presentation, a design drawing, and the bridge's structural efficiency.
Student objectives include:
- Encouraging active involvement in constructing and applying mathematical ideas
- Stimulating effective questioning techniques that promote interaction
- Providing a tool for visualizing structural behavior
- Expanding problem-solving skills
- Learning to work as a team
- Applying research and presentation skills
- Demonstrating practical application of math and science skills
- Enhancing oral and written communication skills
- Allowing non-technical students a chance to gain a greater appreciation for technical fields
The Model Bridge Building Competition is open to middle and high school students in North Carolina. Registration begins each fall, and regional and final competitions take place in early spring.
Teachers can use the competition as a classroom project, select students to work on the project as a team, or have several student teams compete in a school-wide competition with the winner representing the school at the virtual state finals competition.
NCDOT accepts only one model bridge entry per school.
By participating in the competition, students will:
- Expand their vocabulary of geometry, bridges and construction
- Apply bridge vocabulary in a paper on the history and reasoning of bridge construction
- Practice design interpretation by building a model bridge that meets NCDOT criteria
- Use logical reasoning to inspect their bridge to determine if it meets the criteria
- Develop marketing and presentation skills for selling their bridge design to the public and to competition judges
- Learn collaboration by working with a team