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CAK student wins first, third place


Christian Academy of Knoxville sophomore Tyler Hardin represented his school well in the 2008 East Ten-nessee Regional Bridge Building Contest held at the American Museum of Science and Energy in oak Ridge, bringing home the first-place trophy for aesthetics and the third-place trophy for over-all efficiency, Friday, March 7.

“This is my fourth time competing,” Tyler said. “I won [first-place] two years in a row in the junior division and I came in fifth last year in the senior division.”

Tyler represented CAK alone in the competition and was the only West Knox County contender. The other schools competing were Science Hill High School, Cumberland County High School, Lake City Middle School and Davies Home School in Maryville.

Competitors were vying for cash prizes, trophies and the chance to compete in the international competition, held in Chicago, Ill.

Lanell Wright, AMSE employee and competition coordinator, said, “The cash prize for first place is $150, second-place is $100 and third- place is $50. The top two competitors will the move on to the international competition in Chicago and compete for a chance to win a scholarship.

“The cash prizes and the international competition spots are for the senior division only. The junior division receives a trophy and the experience is helpful for them to come back and compete in the senior division, she added.

Several engineers from the competitions co-sponsors, Tennessee Society of Profes-sional Engineers, American Mechanical Society of Engineers and American Civil Engineer Society, and Y-12 were on hand to ensure each bridge met the appropriate specifications for the competition.

Dave Campbell and Mark Eisenhauer, both engineers from Y-12, checked for approproate length, width and load-bearing capabailites.

“We take the criteria that the contestants are designing the bridge for and we go through each of the dimensions of the bridge to make sure it qualifies for the competition. We have to make sure the bridge will accept the load that we are going to apply to it in the manner that we are going to apply it,” Campbell said.

“This year Mark built for us a new load application mechanism, which is essentially a very rigid beam that applies the load at effectively two points; we have a rod that actually pushes down on the beam and applies the load at two points,” he added.

Eisenhauer said, “They change these rules every year, maybe how far apart or where exactly the bridge gets loaded, so the specifications are different year to year. Last year the bridges were loaded in the center and this year the load is actually applied 50 millimeters to the side of the center on each side.”

“Once they get finished with the dimensional evaluation and we have determined that the bridge will accommodate the load in the manner that we intend to apply it, we give them a pass from the dimensional gauging station and they go off to get the bridge weighed. Then they have the basis for determining the effectiveness of the bridge; the mass supported by the mass of the bridge to get the efficiency of the structure,” Campbell said.

Each bridge must span a gap of 300 millimeters, be no longer than 400 millimeters, have a maximum width of 80 millimeters, be no taller than 200 millimeters above the support surfaces and weigh no more than 25 grams.

“All bridges are tested to failure, so what we are doing is evaluating how much load we have applied to take it to failure and dividing that by the mass of the bridge to determine the efficiency of the structure,” Campbell said.

To qualify for the aesthetics competition the bridges also must meet these requirements.

Robert Kennedy, past chair of Mechanical Engineers of Oak Ridge, and Joe Hunt, structural engineer at Y-12, judged the aesthetics competition.

The bridges were awarded points based on material efficiency, design intent, originality and practicality.

Kennedy said, “[We take into account] how much material [is used] compared to what the bridge is supposed to accomplish. Like if those were real bridges, some of them could carry a lot more traffic because they are wider and only use about 10 percent more material than others, so that is an example of efficiency.”

On choosing Tyler’s bridge as the first-place winner, Kennedy said, “It didn’t get top efficiency mark because it is heavy, it uses a lot of stuff, but that is why you have different categories in aesthetics. Overall, both Joe and I agreed, it is clean, and it is really well-constructed.”

Though he did not win first- or second-place this year and cannot compete in the international competition, Tyler plans to return again next year because he said, “I would really like to win that scholarship.”

 

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