ASCE 24th Annual Toothpick Bridge Competition

February 25, 2017

This Spring, the High Bay Lab was proud to host the 24th Annual Toothpick Bridge Competition.

Organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) on February 28. The regional contest was hosted by the Civil Engineering Department of UMD’s Swenson College of Science & Engineering. 

The students competed for awards in strongest and most aesthetically pleasing bridge categories. Many UMD students, faculty and staff were on hand to help with the event and provide tours of the engineering departments and labs. 

High school students from around the region are invited to compete in building the strongest and the most economical bridge out of toothpicks. Civil Engineering Senior Laboratory Service Coordinator Mark Roberts says, “The purpose of the event is to show high school students what it means to be a civil engineer in a fun, hands-on atmosphere.”

The bridges weighed only about a third of a pound, but some can hold 150 pounds. Students were also judged on their bridge's appearance. Some put so much work into their project that they did not want the bridge tested, since this would destroy their creation.

John Hinzman, a member of ASCE stated, "We believe this is an excellent learning experience for students who possibly want to get into engineering or understand engineering a little better."