NORFOLK – Right from the start, it appeared that Jeffrey House of Neligh would be the one to beat in Northeast’s Community College drafting program’s bridge competition.
The first of 11 second-year drafting students to compete, House of Neligh, began stacking weight on his 3.6525-pound bridge, constructed of popsicle sticks and glue, until it collapsed from the 2,285 lbs. of free weights, steel tubing and sections of railroad track sitting on it. More importantly, the bridge held 641.4 times its weight.
House watched three other stud- ents behind him attempt to do what he had accomplished. Those bridges held a combined weight of 695 lbs. or 275.2 times the total weight of all three structures.
But, when the fourth competitor stepped to the stage, House took notice.
Tyler Stubben of Creighton began piling the mass of weight on his 3.40625-pound bridge. The pile got higher - and higher.
After several minutes of stacking, the bridge finally gave way - but a new record was set in the nearly 10-year old competition.
A second count of the weights, determined Stubben’s bridge held 765.5 times its weight, balancing 2,607.5 lbs.
The competition is designed to demonstrate the structural integrity and structural concentration of bridges the students spend weeks and months constructing.
The competition, organized by Michael Holcomb, Northeast structural computer-aided design/drafting instructor, is normally held the last week of the academic year each May. However, a competition for two students who finished this past winter was held in December.
Holcomb said he was pleased with the overall competition. He said he thinks some extra tools the students were allowed to use in the recent competition may have had an impact on why the bridges held weight.
“The drafting department purchased vise grips, bolts and boards for this group of students to use. The vise grips assured that the glue joints were as strong as possible. The boards and bolts were used as jigs to assure they were straight and true. I feel that is the reason that we saw such a noticeable improvement in the performance of the bridges,” he said.
Holcomb said students were able to use the 60-pound structural steel tubing that was donated by Stubben, but there was a catch.
“The students were allowed to put on the structural steel tubing after they placed two or more layers of free weights in the center 46 inches of their bridge,” he said. “This allowed them to spread out weights on the tubing so the stack would not get as tall and top heavy, while still concentrating the load on the center 46 inches of the bridge. This makes the loading of the bridge more uniform and safer.”
Not only did Stubben and House rise to the top two spots on the competition’s all-time Top 20 list, two other students in the 2019 edition of the event joined them.
A 6.5065-pound bridge constructed by Whitney Lindsay of Norfolk, held 253.6 times its weight with 1,650 lbs. of weight, placing her seventh on the Top 20 list. Seth Rasmussen, also of Norfolk, saw his 2.6125-pound bridge hold 485 lbs. or 185.6 times its weight. That landed him in the number 14 spot.
In the December competition, David Avery’s 3.425 lbs. bridge held 262.77 times its weight; balancing 900 pounds of free weights before it collapsed. The accomplishment put the Norfolk man at fourth place on the all-time list.
A new record was set just last year when a 3.78-pound bridge built by Austin Berg, of Austin, Texas, held 1,456 pounds of free weights and sections of railroad track – 385.06 times its weight.
Holcomb said, “It’s always a thrill for me to have a student exceed the 200-times weight ratio.”
Stubben was presented $100 and a certificate from the Nucor Detailing Center, which rewards the overall winner each year. He was presented another $100 from Nucor for setting a new all-time record.