Group Members:

Damien Tse, Caelan Cheock, Byron Chan, Brendan Engbretson, Andrew Fisak, Ronan Bennett

 Civil Engineering (CE):

Civil Engineering deals with the built environment. (i.e. bridges, roads, buildings, etc.) Their job can range from designing railroads and airports to making sure you have running water in your tap. As a Civil Engineer your job is constantly varied, one day you can find yourself building a hydroelectric dam then the next a skyscraper. You must work alongside architects, on top of making things safe and practical its important that the design is aesthetically pleasing. At the end of the day you can really see the fruit of your labor. In our project we take on the role of a Civil Engineer. We must design and build a bridge that can withstand the weight of a RC/Programmed Vex car and three red bricks. The trick will be balancing a nice looking design with a strong bridge.

Mechanical Engineering (ME):

Mechanical Engineering can be as little as designing scissors or as big as designing a space shuttle. Their key job is to take a project from an idea to the marketplace. These Engineers must be jacks-of-all trades. It’s important that they understand materials, solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, control, instrumentation, design, and manufacturing. These Engineers work with anything and everything that moves. For our bridge project we must build a Vex car that is light and small enough for our balsa wood bridge. If all of the moving parts don’t come together seamlessly, then our bridge has the potential to collapse.

 Industrial Engineering (IE):

Industrial Engineers apply math, science and engineering methods to solve complex system integrations and operations. Its important for an Industrial Engineer to have good people skills given that they must interact with others to solve or fix problems. Building a bridge is no simple task; you must factor in the materials you will be using, the amount and the cost. For our bridge we have set design requirements and limited resources. Something to consider is: in 20 years driving towards your bridge with your family, would you be confident enough in your design to drive on through, or would you turn around?

 Inital Project and Learning:

 To get a better understanding on how stress and strain affect large-scale bridges, we started small scale. We built a straw and tape bridge that would hold a cup full of Hex nuts. With a limited number of straws we had to make sure we were using them wisely so we planned accordingly and made it happen. Our bridge was able to hold a little bit more than half of the cup full of Hex nuts. Lastly, out of a couple index cards, we built a stable bridge that could hold 5 moderate sized Hex nuts.

Straw Bridge

Our straw bridge was very strong. If we were to make it again, we would take more time cutting and measuring out the straws and be much more careful taping. Although our bridge was able to hold much more than the required amount of Hex nuts, we probably could have carried even more if we had been more meticulous.

Index Card Bridge

Similar to the straw bridge our index card bridge was very strong. A couple things that we could have changed would be the precision of the cuts as well as better taping. We learned that right triangles are very strong and can disperse weight very well. Armed with this knowledge we could apply this to the design of our full-scale bridge.

 Simulation, Blueprint and Scaled Model:

Before jumping into the project it was important to plan everything out. We first started with Bridge Simulator 2016.

Once we had a successful bridge simulation it was time to translate the design to paper. We then passed our design plans on to another group and they built a 1/4 scale model.

The Car:

We were tasked with programming a Vex car to drive across our bridge and turn around all while carrying 3 red bricks. We first started with the base that would hold the motors, bricks and the brain. After securing the components to the base, we began programming the car. This consisted of YouTube videos and trial and error. After a bit of frustration and counting down form 10 we had a successful working Vex car.

The Bridge:

Going off of the simulation and blueprints, we thought that our design would be good to go. When making our full-scale model, however, we noticed that the single balsa wood supports wouldn’t be enough so doubled up on the sticks and added more crosses. Similar to the car design we modified the design as we went along. Form the beginning we had a surplus of glue so we definitely used that to our advantage.


Prior, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Poor, Performance. (The 5 P’s) It’s definitely beneficial that we did not waste any materials by breaking them. However, we could have planned out the road of the bridge a little more i.e. taken more time to plan out the design of the platform that the car and bricks were going to drive across. We first started by gluing on the supports, when in reality we should have started with the side structures. Overall, we had much more team synergy and were able to deligate tasks more productively.


Video of Project Testing:

Scratch Simulation:



Published on February 25th, 2018

Last updated on November 12th, 2022