Ortonville, Michigan,Thursday, March 30, 2017 – Brandon Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) freshmen entered the 2017 Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Bridge Competition. In the 9th and 10th grade division of the competition, three-member teams design and build balsa wood cantilever through truss bridges. This project tests their ability to work as a team, their attention to detail, their time management skills, and their problem solving skills. To qualify for the state competition, teams are required to prepare a written bridge proposal and a bridge design, using MDOT drafting software. The freshmen have been working on this project since last October.
In total, twenty- three Brandon teams submitted documents for consideration. Sixteen team entries have been accepted and these teams will continue on to compete in the 9th and 10th grade division in Grand Rapids, on April 18th, against teams from all over Michigan. Half of their score will be determined by their bridge model performance. MDOT engineers inspect the bridges for compliance to design criteria and then weigh and strength test them. Their strength to weight ratios will be calculated and compared to other competitors. The other portion of their score is based on a 7-10 minute oral presentation, again to MDOT engineers. In this presentation, teams must share their overall experience including their research, engineering design process application, and their design, construction, and teamwork challenges.
The seven remaining teams, while not qualifying for the state contest, will compete against each other locally. The MDOT Bridge Challenge is in its 16th year. It is a part of MDOT’s Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) Program, a hands on educational program designed for integration into science, math, and engineering classes. Brandon STEM students have entered this competition every year since the STEM program began in the 2010-2011 school year.