These Gentlemen build great bridges
HAMILTON - A group of McMaster engineers has shaken the foundations of a bridge-building dynasty. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a team comprised of six suavely-dressed civil engineering students, has won the 26th annual Troitsky Bridge Building Competition, unseating the reigning champions Cégep de Chicoutimi and ending their six-year consecutive win streak.
Darren Berwick, Matthew Turner, Brandon Kadoski, Zane Kharas, Daniel Perri and Neil Isenegger made up one of six teams from McMaster and 30 overall from 11 Canadian and U.S. universities taking part in the competition at Concordia University in Montreal held earlier this month.
The competition required that each team design and build a bridge with an open span of one metre composed solely of Popsicle sticks, white glue, dental floss and toothpicks, with an overall weight limit of six kilograms. Judging was made up of several criteria including aesthetics, originality, carrying capacity, predicted load capacity, structural efficiency, and predicted mode of failure.
The most feared category is the Ultimate Load Carrying Capacity test, which sees a device nicknamed the "Crusher" apply loads of up to 6,000 pounds. But even the Crusher proved no match for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as their bridge required it to be recalibrated mid-crush. The team's bridge achieved a total carrying capacity of 2,733 kg, exceeding the 6000 pound threshold and beating the previous event record by over 200 kg.
The team achieved an overall score of 92.49 out of 100, taking top marks for best overall bridge design and also winning the award for most innovative design. They won $1,100 in prize money as well as the coveted Troitsky trophy. This is the first time that McMaster has taken home the trophy in its 26 year history.
"So often in engineering there is a disconnect between the theory of what we learn in class and the real world applications," said Berwick. "Competitions such as this allow us to bridge that gap while pushing the limits of materials and design. The leadership and project management experience that comes with putting this bridge together is invaluable and we are proud of what we have accomplished this year. The future is bright and we look forward to pushing the boundaries even further in the years to come."
The Troitsky Bridge Building Competition traces its start back to the 1960s when Michael Troitsky, a professor of civil engineering at Concordia, worked with his students to build scale models of the bridges they were studying. This eventually turned into a competition amongst students and spread outside the university.
Other results for McMaster teams included 5th for The Suspenders, 13th for Lions Gate Bridge Super Tigers, 14th for Shear Luck, 21st for Heavy Load, and 24th for Reinforced JAJARS.
In true gentlemanly fashion, the team acknowledged the many people who helped them in their quest for victory, including staff in the Department of Civil Engineering, the machinists in the student machine shop and the technicians at the Applied Dynamics Laboratory.