UC considering showcasing annual bridge building

09 October 2013

The University of Canterbury (UC) is considering moving its annual bridge building competition into the central city in future.

UC considering showcasing annual bridge building  - Imported from Legacy News system

The University of Canterbury (UC) is considering moving its annual bridge building competition into the central city in future to connect with the public and demonstrate the technical skill of its civil and natural resources engineering students.

Organiser of the event and lecturer of the class Dr Alessandro Palermo says the event is getting bigger every year and it is a great chance for the public, high schools and businesses to see the pool of UC engineering talent.

Nearly 200 students built more than 35 bridges in the annual event on campus yesterday with nearly half the bridges succeeding.

Bridge building has been one of the litmus tests for second year UC civil engineering students for 20 years. The lightweight designed and built bridges must hold two people but fail with three people on them.

"The competition is the event of the year in the civil and natural resources department at UC. People love watching the bridges being tested and students falling into the water. We have hundreds watching every year but it would be great to have the event right in town, possibly a Saturday when we could get big crowds watching.

"We believe we are the only university of our kind in the world actually having students test their designed and constructed bridges. Prestigious universities overseas have similar initiatives but limit the competition to just small scale bridges made of spaghetti or carbon paper.

"I want students creating innovative designs and aesthetically pleasing bridges. These two ingredients are now going to be instrumental for the Christchurch rebuild.

"The most aesthetically designed construction yesterday was a bridge named and branded Red Bull. The students got the inspiration from the Red Bull logo and they turned it into a structural bridge.

"What a fantastic idea. Red Bull should seriously think about building a bridge like the students did. The bridge had a high level of complexity because of a central circle,’’ Dr Palermo says.

Construction of the bridge required advance skills and the students worked with passion and determination for 36 hours in the last weekend before the testing. Levi Natuka Grady, Fanjie Luo, Jack McDonald, Omm Prachankhet and Jono Sorley were the winning bridge team members.

A spokesman for Fletcher Construction, Bruce Herbert says the event was, as always, another inspiring day. 

"It is wonderful to see the efforts of our future engineers apply their intelligence, creativity, and judgement to a very real and compelling practical challenge.” 

MiTek New Zealand southern regional manager Steve Coll says he was impressed with the enthusiasm and passion of the teams.

"Innovation is one of the keys to success in our business and to have this displayed by relatively inexperienced designers was great to see. We saw a pool of bright young engineers coming through that will hold us in good stead for the future.”

View the bridge building clip here.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz