University of Windsor engineering students build bridges to the future  Banner Image

University of Windsor engineering students build bridges to the future

Article and Photo from the Windsor Star

University of Windsor students used popsicle sticks, glue and ingenuity to bridge gaps in their education Tuesday.

Prof. Amr El Ragaby organized a competition between third-year civil and environmental engineering students to design and build models for the Gordie Howe International Bridge and present them to judges from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.

Students were asked to construct scale models of creative concepts and build superstructures that were weight-tested. 

Dan Taekema spoke with students about their designs. 

Leaves and stars
Build time: Three to four days

Two towering spars stand in the centre of a span constructed by Chris Sweetingham and his group. At the top of each concrete pillar are patriotic symbols that could shine in the night — for the American side blue stars and on the Canadian shore red maple leaves. Sweetingham said each bridge needed to have six lanes and be 850 metres long. “We chose a cable bridge because it was the best choice for a long span,” he added.  

Doubling down on detail
Build time: Two days

One of the largest models at the show was a white structure designed by Nathan Barbarossa and built using wood, foam board and string. He said 500 cross pieces were individually cut to create a deck which would look “beautiful” from below. “I wanted something that stands out and looks stunning,” said Barbarossa, adding that his design includes wider lanes “like the 401″ that would avoid the”narrowing feeling” experienced by Ambassador Bridge users. 

K’necting countries
Build time: Eight hours

The colourful construct was made using K’NEX, a popular toy for kids and teens. Ben Stone said he had some kits at home and using the toys helped keep his group’s model to scale. Raquelle Ouimet added that their group’s “harp cable design” would be less expensive to build, could provide a fresh look next to the Ambassador Bridge and act as a beacon for the city when lit up at night.

Build time: Two days

Winding its way across an imaginary river, Dan Brito said his group’s model made use of curves in order to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. “Four arcs attach to a central halo,” he said, explaining that the judges were impressed by the group’s creativity, but had some questions about construction. “We think it could become a landmark that brings people to the region and Windsor doesn’t really have something like that,” said Brito.

Threading the needle
Build time: 12 hours

Mohammed Mustafa joked that his team wanted to  put a small McDonalds on the Canadian side of their model just like the one that serves thousands of customers each year at Huron Church Road. Their design relied on cables to support six lanes running through pillars in a shape Mustafa described as a “V opposite to Y.” While aesthetics are important, the group wanted to build a safe, reliable bridge that would withstand any wind and waves that might occur.