Discover Engineering 2017

Group 4: Elyse Pollack, Cole Schroeder, Kody Stone, Dennapha Trakanchan, Berk Turer, Tilman Voorsinger

What is Civil, Mechanical, and Industrial Engineering?

Civil Engineers design and supervise construction projects, such as roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems. This field of engineering deals with maintaining the built environment, both made by man and by nature. Specific areas of study in civil engineering include structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, and water treatment engineering.

Mechanical Engineers research, design, develop, manufacture, and test all types of mechanical devices. Mechanical engineering deals with moving objects and manufacturing objects. Mechanical engineers play a large role in the automotive industry, while contributing to many other industries.  

Industrial Engineers determine the most effective ways to use basic items of production. They utilize machines, materials, information, and energy to produce products or provide service. Industrial engineers deal with how to effectively reduce waste and how to effectively use materials.

First, we began by creating bridges out of straws and paper. We also designed a bridge using a bridge simulator program.


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Bridge Simulation:  We created a sturdy truss bridge using required materials while keeping a low budget.

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Bridge Project:

Design Process:

We designed and constructed a bridge and a remote control car from a Vex kit that was able to carry 3 standard red bricks across the bridge.  The car had to drive across the bridge, turn around, and drive back in the other direction.  The bridge had to span a 3 foot space between two tables and have a minimum clearance of 1 foot across the span.

We began by individually creating different designs for a bridge. We then came together as a group, drew all of our ideas on the chalkboard, and decided on a design. After, we created a scale drawing of our bridge, writing down measurements for each part. We then split up the tasks where two people worked on the car while the remaining four worked on the scale model and creating our actual bridge with balsa wood planks, balsa wook sticks, and hot glue. We worked effectively and efficiently, helping each other whenever possible.  

Car Construction:

We first built the car, but changed its design multiple times. Therefore, we had to reconstruct the car multiple times. We also programmed the car to drive and turn around while holding three bricks on top of it.

Testing Car:

Car Testing with Bricks:

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Bridge Construction:

We began by creating a scale drawing with measurements, which we used in order to cut the balsa wood sticks and planks into accurate lengths. We laid the pieces on the ground, glued them together, doubled each stick, and repeated these steps for the other side.  The road was built simultaneously as the sides.  After both the sides and road were constructed, we assembled our bridge, adding planks to the bottom of the sides and trusses to the sides to reinforce all parts of the bridge.

Building Road:  We staggered the balsa wood planks to make the road sturdier than aligning all of the planks.

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Building and Assembling Sides:  We first measured and cut balsa wood sticks and arranged them on the ground to match our design.  Next, we glued the sticks together and connected the sides to balsa wood planks.

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Attaching Road to Bridge:  We glued the road to the sides, adding reinforcements to make sure that the sides will not break when the car carrying three bricks drives across our bridge.

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Adding Reinforcements:  We added balsa wood sticks to the sides above and below the road to make our bridge more stable.


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Troubleshooting: We tested our reinforcements by pressing down on the road and seeing which balsa wood sticks were susceptible to breaking because of the tension or compression applied on the sticks by the road.

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Final Bridge and Testing: Our bridge broke when the car drove across it. The superstructure was the first part of the bridge to snap.

Final Bridge Before Testing:

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During Testing:

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After Testing:

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Scratch Simulation:




Kosky, Philip, Robert Balmer, William Keat, and George Wise. An Introduction to Engineering and Design. 4th ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Published on February 25th, 2018

Last updated on April 30th, 2020