UE ASCE Members Teach Local Students about Engineering at Bridge Building Competition


This weekend, thirty-two University of Evansville students volunteered for the 42nd annual Balsa Wood Bridge Building Competition, which brought together more than 150 local elementary, middle, and high school students.

Since 1970, the UE student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers has hosted the competition as part of National Engineers Week. The event took place Saturday, February 25 in Eykamp Hall in UE’s Ridgway University Center.

During the fall semester, UE civil engineering students and ASCE members assemble balsawood bridge building kits and invite young students to participate in the competition as a fun way to learn about engineering, math, and science. The young students arrive at the competition with their completed bridges. Then, UE students put weight on each bridge to see how much it holds before breaking.

Prizes are given to the most efficient bridges (highest amount of weight relative to the weight of the bridge) for the various grade levels. A scholarship to UE is offered to the high school junior who wins his or her division.

“Typically, the competition takes place at one of several locations around Evansville. This is the first time in many years that we hosted it on campus, so we were excited to welcome young students to the University of Evansville and introduce them to the world of engineering,” said Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering and faculty advisor to UE’s ASCE chapter. “I was thrilled to see UE students volunteering their time and giving back to the community by hosting the Balsa Wood Bridge Building Competition.”