Teams made up of Michigan middle and high school students dominated an annual bridge-design competition held by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials at its spring meeting in Franklin, Tenn., on May 22.
Eighteen teams competed this year in the 16th Annual TRAC Bridge Challenge competition, selected from 29 participating states – with nine of those teams from Michigan alone. Team members were all involved in one of two AASHTO educational outreach programs: the Transportation and Civil Engineering or "TRAC" program for high school students or the Roadways in Developing Elementary Students or "RIDES" program.
The competition's goal is to develop a bridge that will carry as much weight as possible while weighing as little as possible. Students competed in three separate age group categories – grades 7-8, grades 9-10, and grades 11-12 – and had to present their designs before a panel of judges. Michigan teams took first place honors in all three age group categories and secured seven of the nine top spots overall.
"Seeing a generation of young women and men so engaged and enthusiastic about engineering gives me hope for the future," said Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan DOT, in a statement.
"It was a great day for MDOT," added Julie VanPortfliet, who manages the TRAC program for MDOT. "The students from across Michigan not only made us proud of our commitment to support science, technology, engineering and math education, but they had us in awe as they presented what they learned while preparing for the competition."
Online voting is now underway to decide the People's Choice Award winner in the annual Faces of Transportation photography and video contest sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
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