We Build Bridges…Then we Break Them!

For participants in the 6th Annual SAMPE Bridge Breaking Contest, finding the strongest bridge comes from putting their creations head to head to see which can withstand the most pressure.

Why hold such a competition? Students from across the state enrolled in advanced materials manufacturing courses are excited to demonstrate the skills they have developed, and to find new ways to innovate as they move forward in advanced materials innovation–preparing them for careers in one of the fastest growing industries in Utah. For the lay-person, here’s a bit of a primer on some of the terminology you may encounter at the Bridge-Breaking Competition:

Composite: A composite is when two different materials are combined to create a different material. These days, it serves as a catch-all term to refer to reinforced plastics and it’s how it will be referred to here. Composites are made of a structural fiber and a plastic to create Fiber Reinforced Plastics. Together, the fiber provides structure and strength while the plastic binds it together to make an incredibly strong, incredibly lightweight product.

Fibers: Carbon Fiber, Aramid Fiber, Natural Fiber (Wood, Hemp)

Plastic Resins: Epoxy, Polyurethane, Polypropylene, Polyester

 Pre-preg: This is the common term for fabric reinforcement that has been pre-impregnated with a resin system. It’s ready to place into a mold without the addition of resin.

 Core Materials: There are a number of foams that are a special class of composite materials made of two thin but stiff skins that are attached to a lightweight but thick core. They can be open- or closed-cell structure foams.

Participants will use materials like these to construct bridges at least 24” in length that are structurally continuous. They will also submit a poster or video that addresses the technical content that describes the process of their bridge-build. Teams will be judged on maximum compression load (for the category entered) where the bridge fails.

To see the competition in action, you can attend the Bridge Breaking Competition on Wednesday, April 12, from 2-5 p.m. at Salt Lake Community College’s Meadowbrook Campus, Building A-124, which is located at 250 W. 3900 S. in Salt Lake City.

Those interested in participating can contact the Rules Committee, or for more information, email Alan Done or Andy George.