Bridge Building Recap

The bridges have been broken, and egos have been bolstered or bruised as appropriate.   Here’s a recap of Bridge Breaking Night.



The bridges in the competition 


The bridge test stand.  Sand flowed from the bucket on top to the hanging “bucket” below.  With additional iron weights, the hanging bucket could hold nearly 200 pounds.


First of all, Archie’s performance was….. well, mediocore.  He held 66.5 pounds and finished 7th out of 10.  Unfortunately, he faired worse than the control standard of simply putting two square dowels across the open span.  But hey, some people did worse than me…


The winning bridge was named the “10 Minute Bridge”.  It held the second highest amount of weight (150 pounds), yet was one of the lightest bridges at 18 grams.  It dominated the contest by having a ratio of carrying weight to bridge weight that was twice the 2nd place bridge.


The “10 Minute Bridge” being built


The “10 Minute Bridge” being tested.  The block of wood on the string is part of the test stand.


The great thing about this bridge was its simplicity – it was made of 4 pieces of dowel and a length of string!  There are a few things that are noteworthy (and relevant to software development) regarding this bridge and its development.


  • The design was very simple.  It was guided by two basic principles:  the string (that would be the part I chose not to use…) was the strongest component and the dowels are strongest when in compression.
  • The construction was easy.  It could be built in 10 minutes!  Simple design often means simple construction.
  • The design was well tested.  The winner was the host of the contest and the creator of the test stand.  Thus he was able to test his bridge to see how well it would hold up when trying different design and construction variations.

Simple, easy to construct, and well tested designs are the best kind for bridges AND software development! 


It was a fun event for all involved.  Plans are already being discussed for the next contest…

Comments (7)
  1. Mike says:

    Looks whacky in an aggregator. Try smaller images.

  2. Sam says:

    Looks funny: the weight is not on the 10min bridge itself but rather on the strings beneath it – wouldnt a bridge usually crossed on the dowels rather then on the strings?

  3. Dave Froslie says:

    One of the requirements for the competition was that a "roadway" could be easily added to the load carrying part of the bridge. The creator of the "10 Minute Bridge" claims that his bridge is a rope bridge. The rest of us bought it… you be the judge!

  4. It’s that time of year again.  My co-worker, Michael, has once again concocted a mid-winter competition…

  5. We spent two hours last night destroying what many of us spent many hours building for Engineering Competition…

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