The qualifying round for the 23rd annual West Virginia Bridge Design & Build Contest is underway.
The contest, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, BridgeWalk, West Virginia Department of Education, and WVU Tech in Beckley, challenges middle and high school students to see who can design the lowest cost bridge using bridge design software developed for students. Finalists will also build a balsa bridge to see how much force the model will stand before collapsing.
“This STEM activity gives students a chance to try engineering in a fun and competitive environment,” said Jennifer Dooley, a spokesperson with WVDOT. “All around our state, there are good careers available with WVDOT. Engineers are always in demand. For more than 20 years, we have hosted the competition to give students a chance to try their hand at something that may be new to them.”
The contest is free and open to every middle school and high school student who attends any public, private or home school in West Virginia. Finalists will be invited to compete for cash prizes at WVU Tech in Beckley in the spring.
WVDOH has Windows and MAC builds of the contest software so more students across the state will have the necessary computers to participate in the contest.
The contest is designed to encourage STEM education and inspire tomorrow’s engineers, today. Students can win cash prizes and every student who participates in the contest gets a free BridgeWalk tour for themselves and their families.
“We have had previous contest participants say they went to college to study engineering because of the competition,” said Dooley. “The goal is to help them realize how many great paths are available right here in West Virginia. WVDOT has scholarships, summer co-op opportunities, tuition reimbursement and other programs to help students if they choose to work with us, not just in engineering but other fields as well.”
Students have until March 1, 2024, to register, download their bridge design software and submit their bridge design. All materials for the competition, including a YouTube tutorial by Secretary of Transportation, Jimmy Wriston, are available on the website.
To register, download bridge design software, or find out more about the contest, visit https://wvbridgedesignandbuildcontest.com.