TA News

Engineers Share Expertise with Physics Students

Engineers from the Vermont Agency of Transportation were on campus this month to lend their expertise to TA students embarking on a bridge-building unit. AOT’s Fianna Barrows PE, Structures Design Engineer, joined Tony Strat-Cortez’s Physics class to present on different design techniques for building strong bridges and the variables that she takes into account when designing bridges for the Vermont climate and landscape.

Using what they learned, students were tasked with designing and constructing with just a few prescribed materials: hot glue and/or wood glue, popsicle sticks, string for suspension, and a variety of dowels. When testing day arrived last Friday, the AOT – this time Josh Paquette, a civil engineer with the agency – returned to see students present their projects and put their bridges through a series of stress tests.

On Monday, Edel Cortez, a retired professor from the US Air Force Academy and former director of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, also joined the class conversation. Cortez spoke to students about college and career paths in engineering before watching (and providing feedback on) the second round of bridge stress tests. All the students’ bridges were feats of creativity and design, and the 1st place bridge held 663 pounds!

The students’ bridges ranked as follows:
1st place: Isaiah Kol, Marshall Melancon, and Maxwell Leibon- 663 lbs
2nd place: Madelyn Durkee and Charlotte Reimanis – 207.5 lbs
3rd place: Aden Perry – 150 lbs




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