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Spaghetti bridge winners hard to beat

Taking the strain: Terry Lucke (right) oversees the competitionThree second year civil engineering students were the outstanding winners of UniSA’s 2007 Spaghetti Bridge competition after designing and building a bridge weighing 193 grams that was capable of supporting 53 kilograms, or the weight of a teenager.

The aim of the competition was to design and build the lightest bridge capable of supporting the heaviest load when weight is hung, according to course developer in the School of Natural and Built Environments, Terry Lucke.

"Students had to put their engineering knowledge into practice using spaghetti and superglue to construct a bridge weighing less than 200 grams," Lucke said.

"The use of spaghetti is a great way to demonstrate some basic principles of engineering because it reacts to the five internal stresses and strains within a structure – tension, compression, bending, shear and torsion. By constructing a model bridge, students are able to examine the effects of these forces individually and combined," he said.

This year’s winners beat the 2006 winners by a significant margin, despite having to meet an even greater challenge than in past years, with the width of the bridge span being increased from 300 mm to 350 mm, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the competition.

The winners, Heath Mynhart, Daniel Tsagouris and Arthur Avetisian, spent many hours researching their design before starting to build, and it certainly paid dividends because they came up with the best bridge design.

"To my knowledge their bridge produced the best results that we’ve ever had in all of the years that the competition has been run," Lucke said.

"Generally everybody really worked hard on their bridges. There were some really interesting designs and the majority of them performed very well, even beyond expectations. The students put in so much effort and the feedback that I received from them was that it was a great learning experience and they really enjoyed it."