Panthers return from state model bridge competition

RANGELY — The 2009 Rangely High School bridge building team failed to place in the top five Saturday, but their bridge designs did cause the contest judges and the civil engineers of the Bureau of Reclamation to scratch their collective crania!
The four-member team who traveled to the Denver Federal Center’s Bureau of Reclamation facility were senior Garrett Salter, juniors Eric Sisneros and Jason Stults (team veteran) and sophomore Landon Mecham.
The team tested three of their official designs and three of their unofficial bridges.
Salter, Sisneros and Mecham were allowed to test their designs since they were in attendance.
Stults qualified first locally and tested his design.
Junior Michael Dillon’s bridge qualified, but he was in the Colorado wrestling tourney. Dillon’s bridge was 0.49 grams (the lightest design tested at the state level) and making the engineers scramble to adjust their testing equipment to accommodate the design.
Senior James Herrera’s bridge was also a very light design allowing the team to witness engineering problem solving at its best. The design of Cole Barlow was also tested, but he too was wrestling for the Panthers on Saturday.
This year’s model bridge design was constructed of 3/32 by 3/32 inch square dimension basswood.
The mass of the design could be no more than 30 grams, the measurements to have a maximum span 300 millimeters and length of 400 millimeters and be no more than 200 mm tall. The loading deck had to be constructed to accommodate a 50mm by 50mm plate offset 5 cm from the bridge’s centerline.
The loading point could be no more than 15 mm above the support surfaces.
All RHS bridges were deemed “legal” by the judging officials and “very unique”; a lot of judges’ smiles were exhibited.
Eric Sisneros’ design was a “braided” design unique at the state level.
The efficiency of each bridge is calculated by the load in grams at failure divided by the mass of the bridge. In other words, the majority of the Panther’s designs were less than the mass of a U.S. Mint quarter coin, holding many pounds of weight.
The team’s goal was to be as light but efficient as possible. Most of the bridges from the team did not break, but were moved out of position during the testing.
The team also toured the Bureau of Reclamation’s laboratory and research facilities and witnessed in the materials lab portion of the lab the crushing of several thousand kilogram concrete cylinder with nearly 14 million Newtons (3.3 million pounds) of compressive force. They also toured the fluid-dynamics portion of the lab, with many real time lab models (1:40 scale) and prototypes being observed in action. Examples of test models were; The Humboldt River (CA) fish capture models, western species of fish spawn labs, hydro-electric dam-turbine cavitations and concrete core sample tests (humidified and no-humidified chemical tests) and irrigation and metropolitan canal erosion studies were also observed.
The 2009 bridge building/physics class were: seniors Jen Barlow; Kanden Brady, James Herrera, Chance Holcomb, Blake Mecham, Garrett Salter, Peter Walz and Heather Wanstedt; juniors Michael Dillon, Patrick Phelan, Eric Sisneros and Jason Stults; sophomores Cole Barlow, Landon Mecham and Blake Wanstedt.