28th Annual Bridge Building Contest hosted by the PEO & Sault College

Each year, for the last 28 years, Sault College has hosted a bridge building contest for           young students between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. Students who entered the contest were given specifications addressing the construction of their bridges. These specifications included a minimum length of 450mm, a minimum width of 40mm, and the only two materials to be used in construction: balsa wood and glue.

Once built, bridges were registered, judged for their civil and architectural designs, and put under loading until ultimate failure by the Sault College “Crusher”. The winners of each category were determined by a point grading system. Grading criteria included civil design, architectural design, originality, and a unitless measurement of strength (failure load divided by self-weight).

This year, there were over $1,000 in cash prizes to be won. First place winners included Liam Spacek from the grade 5/6 category, Amelia Spacek from the grade 7/8 category, and Gavan Barrett from the grade 9-12 category.

 A competition such as this bridge building contest is a great way for young prospective engineers to come out, have fun and test their skills! Students who participated this weekend gained exposure to the world of engineering and the limitless possibilities that accompany it. It doesn’t just stop at bridges: engineering is needed everywhere, and the sooner our youth are given a chance to realize this, the sooner they can become involved and discover what they are passionate about!


Mark Caruso from STEM Engineering, judging the civil design of each bridge the night before the crushing occurred.

The first-place overall winner of the grade 5/6 category, Liam Spacek’s bridge. The failure load of this bridge was highest out of the whole competition at 164 kilograms!!!

A beam bridge exhibiting signs of deflection as it is on the way to reaching ultimate failure loading.


A balsa wood bridge beginning to fail as a result of torsional instability.


his year’s organizers of the bridge building competition with the top two finishers from the grade 7/8 category. Organizers this year included Karina Gagné from STEM Engineering, Marc Pilon from WSP, Matt Kirby from Tulloch Engineering, and Robert Bressan from GHD. The winners were Amelia Spacek and Sarah Kresin.

The multimedia room at Sault College where the contest took place. There was plenty of food and refreshments to go around for those that attended the event.

First-place winner of the grade 7/8 category, Amelia Spacek, being interviewed by a news reporter!

Students who competed in the highschool category prior to handing over their bridges to “The Crusher”. Shown here are Gavan Barrett, Tameara Barrett, Tiana Bressan, and Kaitlyn Plastino.


One of the students demonstrated creativity by building an internationally-decorated bridge.

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