Portage students win
MDOT's Michigan Design & Build Bridge Challenge
- Five Portage teams among the 12 winning teams in statewide bridge-building competition.
- The winning teams come from Portage Central Middle School and Portage Central High School.
- Portage students on one of nine participating teams at National Bridge Challenge.
June 6, 2012 -- Five teams from Portage schools were among 12 winning teams statewide in the 4th Annual Michigan Design & Build Bridge Challenge held in Lansing on April 30, and a team from Portage was one of nine participating teams in the National Bridge Challenge held in Traverse City on May 18.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) organizes the statewide competition as part of Michigan's Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) sponsors the national competition. MDOT partners with AASHTO to provide hands-on tools to Michigan science and math classrooms, thus increasing interest in civil engineering and transportation-related careers.
The bridge competitions, designed to provide students with an opportunity to interact with civil engineers at state and national levels, were supported by federal funds designated for student outreach.
The Statewide Challenge featured 80 teams that designed and built one of three kinds of bridges: 7th and 8th graders built truss bridges, 9th and 10th graders built drawbridges, and 11th and 12th graders built cable-stayed bridges. Teams were judged by MDOT engineers on their bridge's specification measurements, the strength-to-weight ratio, and a PowerPoint presentation. The winning Statewide Challenge teams from southwest Michigan include:
- First place, 9th and 10th grade: John Blanchard, Cameron Brandt, and Ben Alburtus from Portage Central High School, led by advisor Dale Freeland.
- First place, 7th and 8th grade: Elisa Weber, Grace Shafer, and Noah Sutton from Portage Central Middle School, led by adviser Mike Champion.
- Second place, 7th and 8th grade: McKenzie Elliott, Nicole Prihoda, and Caitlyn Walsh from Portage Central Middle School, led by adviser Mike Champion.
- Third place, 7th and 8th grade: Alex Hufford, Connor Koryto, and Tristyn Martin from Portage Central Middle School, led by adviser Mike Champion.
- Fourth place, 7th and 8th grade: Joey Liu, William Chung, and Ben Behrens from Portage Central Middle School, led by adviser Mike Champion.
AASHTO selected another 7th and 8th grade team from Portage, the "Boa Constructors" (Michael Tarn, Tristan Greathouse, and Ali Thomas), to be among the nine teams to compete in the National Bridge Challenge on May 18 as part of AASHTO's 2012 Spring Meeting in Traverse City. Teams from New Hampshire and Mississippi also were invited to compete, based on the proposals they submitted. In addition to being judged on the design and strength of the bridge, the teams answered challenging questions posed by civil engineers from across the country. The Boa Constructors placed third in the truss bridge category.
DOTs from 11 states (Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas) participate in the TRAC program to prepare students for careers in the transportation industry. Schools utilizing the TRAC program are eligible to participate in the National Bridge Challenge.
For more information on the TRAC program and the Michigan Bridge Challenge, visit MDOT's Web site at www.michigan.gov/mdot-trac.
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