When We Get to the Bridge – We’ll Cook it

Dozens of civil engineering students at the Be’er Sheva campus participated in the annual pasta bridge building competition

The pasta bridge building competition was held in the Structural Analysis 2 course in the civil engineering program at the Be’er Sheva campus. The students were asked to design and build a bridge made of pasta that can sustain heavy loads. The bridge had to be built according to certain rules - the building material must be 500 gram of pasta (one package), the pasta can only be connected with contact glue or thin rope, and the bridge must be one meter long, up to 50 cm high and at least 5 cm wide.

During the competition the teams placed the structure they built between two surfaces at a distance of one meter from each other. Then they began to load weights in order to test how much weight the bridge could withstand and when it would break. Despite the extreme limitations many teams reached impressive weights. The competition enables students to apply various theories and learn how to calculate pressure.

“The pasta bridge competition we held in the department is part of the Project Oriented approach implemented at the SCE”, said the Head of the Civil Engineering department, Dr. Dagan Bakun-Mazur. “This approach is based on learning while doing in a wide range of classes during the students’ studies. We presented the students with a known engineering problem – designing and building a bridge. In order to gain practical experience and show them that sometimes you have to think outside the box in order to succeed, the lecturer Dr. Marina Firer informed the students that the bridge could only be built from dry pasta. During the competition students experience teamwork in solving engineering problems encountered in industry, accompanied by close academic and practical guidance adapted to a changing reality. This enables students to better understand the theoretical material and apply what they learned in department classes. From conversations with students we learned that the experience of designing a project, alongside the required engineering calculations, enables them to gain a better tangible understanding of how things work. These qualities are necessary for all civil engineers, and therefore, besides the shared department experience, these fundamental tasks contribute to the quality of our students”.