Team BEST bridge testing

Team Best members Talin Quine, Connor Adams and Saxton McHenry ready their bridge for testing at the 2019 AASHTO Bridge Finals.

Three teams of students from Mississippi took home awards during a national bridge building competition.

Team “Best” from Guntown Middle School placed third in the 7th and 8th Grade category; “Your Arch Nemesis” from East Union Attendance Center in Blue Springs placed third in the 9th and 10th Grade category; and “OMEGA” from East Union Attendance Center placed third in the 11th and 12th Grade category. “Blue Crew” from Mantachie Middle School also competed in the 7th and 8th Grade category.

The event was held May 21 in Park City, Utah, by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials at the annual spring meeting. Sponsored in part by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Bridge Challenge displays how students are learning about transportation while excelling in STEM education.

The National Bridge Challenge is part of the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program which teaches students in grades seven to 12 how to apply math and science concepts to common engineering problems occurring in the development of transportation systems. The AASHTO Bridge Challenge is designed to promote an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The 2019 National Bridge Challenge collected 370 applications from 23 states participating in the TRAC program, narrowed down to a field of 132 semi-finalists and then to 18 finalists from six states: Michigan, Mississippi, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana, and California.

Over a nearly eight-month period, teams built model bridges made from kits provided by the TRAC program that included glue and balsa wood. They then used engineering software to design their bridges, built prototypes, and used destructive testing to gauge the upper limits of the strength-to-weight ratio of their designs.

The all-day national contest began with team presentations about the design and testing process of their bridges before a panel of judges, followed by destructive testing of their bridge models. Winners were selected based on points awarded for their presentations and for the performance of their models in destructive testing, with all team members receiving medals. Cash prizes were also awarded, with first place teams getting $1,200, second place teams $900, and third place teams $600.

For more information about MDOT’s STEM education outreach programs, visit

• In the 7th and 8th grade division, the winners were:

First place: The VS2 team of Sophie Dana, Victoria Ryan, and Paisley Siebers from Portage Middle School in Portage, Michigan.

Second place: The INNO-Builders team of Eshwar Saikumar, Cilicia Gonzalez, and Brayden Tenhagen from the Innoacademy in Zeeland, Michigan.

Third Place: The Best team of Connor Adams, Saxton McHenry, and Talan Quin from Guntown Middle School.

• In the 9th and 10th grade division, the winners were:

First place: The Northville Arch team of Mason Niu, Oliver Wu, and Andy Jiang from Northville High School in Northville, Michigan.

Second place: The Knot Right Bridges team of Paige Thwing, Madelyn Misenar, and Rylee Sobecki from Brandon High School in Ortonville, Michigan.

Third place: The Your Arch Nemesis Team of Annalise Bailey, Josh Duley, and Cole Nichols from East Union Attendance Center in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

• In the 11th and 12th grade division, the winners were:

First place: The EKR Miner Construction team of Theo Kumpula, Keegan Erva, and Collin Remilong from Negaunee High School in Nagunee, Michigan.

Second place: The C.A.D. Bridge Design team of Derek Servin, Alex Harold, and Clemente Cardoso-Guevara from Annapolis High School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

Third place: Team Omega of Will Duley, Noah Watts, Anna Mims from Blue Springs, Mississippi.

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