Future Engineers Use Their Noodles
Bridges are typically made of steel and stone but next Friday hundreds of high school students across the country will attempt to make them from nothing but pasta and epoxy as part of The Johns Hopkins University’s annual edge-of-your-seat spaghetti bridge contest.
It’s suspenseful and nerve-racking as students who’ve spent days designing and building bridges put their brittle creations to the test, gradually adding weight, kilo by kilo. Prizes and bragging rights go to the bridges that support the most weight – the record stands at 132 pounds.
The event caps the university’s Engineering Innovation summer program for young people likely to become the next generation of scientists and engineers. Over four weeks the students get a hands-on taste of everything from robotics to civil engineering and learn to puzzle through real-world problems just like an engineer. More than 80 percent of those that complete the program go on to pursue careers in science and engineering. The program is a diverse one. Since it started in 2006, attendees have been 32 percent girls, 16 percent African American and 17 percent Latino/Hispanic.