Students shine during WVDOT Bridge Design and Build Contest

CHARLESTON, WV – Students in West Virginia middle and high schools shined over the weekend in the 2023 West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest.The event, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) for over 20 years, was hosted at WVU Institute of Technology Campus in Beckley on Saturday. There were 149 teams, an individual or team of two students, from schools all over the state that submitted designs.The competition focuses on engineering, using real world design principles in the software with which students design their bridges.Garrett Ferguson, a senior at Frankfort High School in Mineral County, took home first place in the High School Division of the Software Competition.“After checking in, we went up into the computer lab and did the software part of the contest,” said Ferguson. “They gave us two different scenarios and we had to design a bridge that passed all the qualifications. On the software, it has a truck run across the bridge and if the truck makes it across it passes.“We did that for two different scenarios – one was an arch bridge and one was a bridge with a pier.”
The award winners from the competition include:Software CompetitionHigh School Division1st–  Garrett Ferguson, Team: 7Salamanders from Frankfort High School, Mineral County2nd– Sophie Carpenter and Nadia Madenspacher, Team: Get Over It from Musselman High School, Berkeley County3rd–  Madelyn Cole and Parker Shrewsbury, Team : Anakin, I have the high ground from Pikeview High School, Mercer CountyMiddle School Division1st– Kaleb Byrge and Thomas Sides, Team: Heatedscorpions from Park Middle School, Raleigh County2nd– Emma Vincent, Team: The DangerousDoggies from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County3rd– Ellie Burns, Team: Lunacat from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County
Balsa Wood CompetitionHigh School Division1st– Johnathon Meadows, Team: Productive panthers from Pikeview High School, Mercer County2nd– Nathaniel Vincent, Team: Potato Games from Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier COunty3rd– Alex Gilchrist and Janie Gilchrist, Team: Cheeseburger from Morgantown High School, Monongalia CountyMiddle School Division1st– Emma Vincent, Team: TheDangerousDoggies from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County2nd– Elizabeth Erwin and Colston Mendez, Team: SuperiorPotatoFarmerz from Teays Valley Christian School, Putnam County3rd– Andrew Simon, Team: BBB (Bridge Building on a Budget) from Park Middle School, Raleigh CountyMaximum RatioMorgan Smith, Team: titanstrong1 from Gilmer County High School, Gilmer CountyDr. Tammy Donahue and Ms. Teresa Barton were both awarded the Outstanding Coach and Teacher Award.
On Sunday, students were rewarded with a tour of the New River Gorge Bridge catwalk, courtesy of BridgeWalk. All students who entered the competition earned a free tour for themselves and their families.“The walk was pretty cool,” said Cole. “We got to learn about the bridge and see how it was made.”Partners this year include the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, and BridgeWalk.
With work continuing in all 55 counties across the state, the West Virginia Division of Highways and the West Virginia Department of Transportation remind the public of the importance of keeping everyone safe in work zones by keeping “Heads up; phones down!”