College Hosts Bridge Breaking Competition for Johns Hopkins Summer Engineering Program

by Diane VanDyke

As a way to demonstrate their newly learned engineering skills, 21 area high school students put their carefully designed spaghetti bridges to the test in an endurance competition on Friday, July 26, at Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell.

The bridge competition was the culminating event of the month-long Summer Engineering Innovation Program provided by Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering at MCCC. PECO, Philadelphia; The DOW Chemical Company, Spring House, Pa.; and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Norristown, provided funding for scholarships to offset tuition costs.

Students built bridges using only spaghetti and epoxy mixed with a hardening agent. The criteria for the completed bridges included a maximum weight of 250 grams, height of 25 centimeters, length of 25 centimeters and minimum width of 5 centimeters. Photo by Anita Jerva

Students built bridges using only spaghetti and epoxy mixed with a hardening agent. The criteria for the completed bridges included a maximum weight of 250 grams, height of 25 centimeters, length of 25 centimeters and minimum width of 5 centimeters. Photo by Anita Jerva

“We were proud to partner with MCCC to help increase interest in the engineering field among local high school students,” said Craig L. Adams, president and CEO, PECO. “MCCC consistently adapts their programs to help fit the needs of the changing community, and we are thrilled the College worked with JHU to develop our future workforce in such a critical field.”

The program helps high school students develop skills to problem solve like engineers through various hands-on laboratory activities. Dr. Vidya Nandikolla, an engineering professor at Philadelphia University, and Frederick Schlik, a teacher at the Hill School, Pottstown, co-taught the courses.

Participants included: Daniel Alessi, Harleysville; Noah Alessi, Harleysville; Jacob Boyce, Colmar; Joseph DiFeo, Lansdale; Mitchell Dominguez, Marlton, NJ; Russell Emery, Phoenixville; Zachary Gery, North Wales; Mahadi Islam, Hatfield; Patricia Luciany, Lansdale; Cole Marano, Jenkintown; Rohan Masani, Royersford; Erinn Molina, Lansdale; Reena Patel, Lansdale; James Piatt, Merion Station; Alexander Provan, Lansdale; Tyler Seelig, Hatfield; Jason Swift, Radnor; Elyas Tecle, Blue Bell; Samantha Tener, Blue Bell; John Wellhofer, Blue Bell; and Christopher Wellman, Lafayette Hill.

“This program took what we learned in high school to a higher level and helped to prepare us for college,” said Patricia Luciany, who starts college this fall and will be majoring in electrical engineering. “We learned such things as how to interpret data and write lab reports.”

During the final weeks of the program, students designed and built their bridges using only spaghetti and epoxy mixed with a hardening agent. The criteria for the completed bridges included a maximum weight of 250 grams, height of 25 centimeters, length of 25 centimeters and minimum width of five centimeters.

The winning bridge, built by Mahadi Islam, Rohan Masani and Joseph DiFeo, sustained 16.5 pounds. The second place winners were Patricia Luciany, Russell Emery and Mitchell Dominguez. Their bridge sustained 37 pounds, but they lost points because their bridge exceeded the weight limit. The third place winners were Reena Patel, Noah Alessi and James Piatt. Their bridge sustained 12 pounds.

Through this partnership with Johns Hopkins and the generous support of PECO, DOW and WIB, MCCC is able to offer programs like this for high school students to encourage them to explore careers in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

To further assist students pursuing engineering education, MCCC recently revised its two-year Engineering Associate of Science degree program to ensure the seamless transfer of credits to four-year engineering programs accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, including programs offered by Temple, Widener and Philadelphia universities.

For more information about courses offered at Montgomery County Community College or the dual enrollment program for high school students, visit mc.edu.

Participants from the Summer Engineering Innovation Program provided by Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Anita Jerva

Participants from the Summer Engineering Innovation Program provided by Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Anita Jerva

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