Marshall hosts bridge designer competition
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University is playing host to the West Virginia West Point Bridge Design Contest this weekend, giving top design teams from middle and high schools a chance to win cash prizes of a combined $7,000.
The contest provides middle and high school students with an introduction to engineering, bridges and transportation design concepts through a realistic, hands-on experience.
One of the first projects they did Friday in the Weisberg Engineering Lab was a LEGO design, where half the team members were given a LEGO creation with the instructions to draw designs on how to put it together. Then, their teammates, who were touring the lab, had to be able to follow those directions to rebuild the LEGO creation.
The more than two dozen students also took part in engineering games Friday afternoon. But it's down to business Saturday morning, when they hit the computer labs and design their bridges. The awards luncheon and keynote address will take place at noon in the Memorial Student Center.
No matter who wins, all the students gained something by participating. Summer McElwain, a sixth-grader from Lewisburg, said it shows students what an engineering program is like at the college level.
"It shows you what you could end up doing and how interesting and fun it would be," McElwain said. "Your mind is more open to many more careers."
Jordan Nelson, a senior from Pikeview High School near Princeton, plans to attend Bluefield State College and major in civil engineering. One of the most interesting aspects of his visit to Marshall was seeing the types of concrete that are used in building. Marshall students competed this semester in a regional engineering competition and had to build a concrete canoe using a special concrete mixture that allows the canoe to float.
The Rahall Transportation Institute, West Virginia Younger Member Forum of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the West Virginia Department of Transportation are also assisting in the hosting of the contest.