SCE Pasta Hackathon

The annual competition between SCE 3rd year Civil Engineering students was held this week. The students competed in building a bridge that can withstand various loads using the only raw material permitted – pasta.

The bridges from pasta competition took place this week in the SCE’s Civil Engineering department. About one week before the competition the students participated in a hackathon where they planned and built the bridges after receiving the competition instructions and rules, namely - the only material they could use was 500 grams of pasta (one package); only hot glue and thin rope could be used to connect the beams; the bridge must be one meter long, up to 50 cm high with a minimum width of 5 cm.

During the competition the teams placed the structure they had built so that it stood between two surfaces at a distance of one meter from each other. The teams then began to load weights on the bridges to test when they would break and how much weight they could withstand. Despite the extreme conditions many teams succeeded in reaching impressive weights, and the winning team reached a maximum weight of 23 kg. Using pasta as raw material showed the students how various theories could be applied and how different materials react to pressure, gravity, and other natural laws.

“The pasta bridge competition we conducted in the department is part of the College’s Project Oriented approach”, noted Dr. Dagan Bakun-Mazor, head of the Civil Engineering department. “This method is based on learning by doing in a wide range of classes throughout the students’ academic studies. Students gain experience through group work by solving engineering problems encountered in industry, accompanied by close academic and practical guidance that takes into consideration a changing reality. We conduct these competitions to enable our students to gain experience in planning and building tangible products. Thus students better understand the theoretical study material and apply what they learned in class. From conversations with students we see how the material they learned is brought to bear, leads them to think outside their notes and to see things as they take place in the real world. These attributes are a must for every civil engineer, and therefore, beyond the department spirit, these are essential assignments that contribute to the quality of our students”.