Altoona ASHE Hosts National Bridge
Six National bridge building winners, all
from the Mifflin County School District (the Lewistown area
of Pennsylvania), were honored by Altoona ASHE members at the
The students, along with advisors and school administrators,
talked about the complications and frustrations leading up to
the National Competition held in June at Atlanta, GA. The competitions,
regional, state-wide and nationally, are sponsored each year
by the Technology Student Association.
Kristin Aurand and Daniella Reynolds, now juniors, designed
and built the winning bridge out of balsa wood to capture the
2000 Structural Engineering National Championship. There were
150 teams from high schools throughout the United States participating
in this level of competition. All the competitors were in one
large room, talking and working at the same time.
The girls said the competition began when they were given the
specifications for the bridge and the materials and told they
had 2½ hours to design and complete the structure. In
past competitions, the girls were able to carve the ? thick
pieces of balsa wood in order to lower the structure weight,
but one of the stipulations this time was "NO CARVING."
"At first we panicked," the girls said, "and
we thought we didn't have much of a chance." Knowing that
the secret was to keep the bridge weight low since the formula
used to determine the winner (strength of the bridge before
breaking) was the weight of the bridge verses the weight it
can hold. After discussing several methods, the girls decided
to take a straight pin and "hollow out" the structure
The strategy worked and the bridge, weighing just ounces, held
19.9 pounds before it broke apart. The girls were the National
Another pair of first place winners, Matt Aurand and Cyle Vogt
from the Strodes Mills Middle School of the Mifflin County School
District, captured their division by building a structure that
stayed together holding 42 pounds before it broke apart. The
second place winner was far behind at 34 pounds.
Prototypes of the two first place winners were passed around
for the ASHE members to examine.
Two other students, Britney Watt and Chris McKee, won a 12th
place award in their division. They are both students at Lewistown
Accompanying the students to the ASHE meeting were the two
advisors, William C. Aurand, J. Stanley Stuck, assistant superintendent,
and Edward Curry, high school principal.
The students and advisors were presented certificates for their
accomplishments, and the school district was presented a plaque,
honoring the students, advisors and the school board members
who provided all the financial support for the students and
advisors to go to all the competitions. The presentations were
made by ASHE Altoona Section President Joe Keller.
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