BECKLEY, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Saturday, West Virginia middle and high school students were invited to WVU Institute of Technology’s campus in Beckley to participate in the 2023 West Virginia Bridge Design and Build Contest.

In total, 149 teams of one and two students from across the state came to participate and submit their designs. The competition emphasized principles of engineering and allowed students to use real-world software to develop and design their bridge submissions.

Two main competitions took place as a part of the event; one was for the best-designed bridge through software, and the other was for the best physically built bridge made out of balsa wood.

Garrett Ferguson, a senior at Frankfort High School in Mineral County, took home first place in the High School Division of the Software Competition.

“After checking in, we went up into the computer lab and did the software part of the contest,” Ferguson said. “They gave us two different scenarios and we had to design a bridge that passed all the qualifications. On the software, it has a truck run across the bridge and if the truck makes it across it passes.”

The winners of each contest are as follows:

Software Competition: High School

  1. Garrett Ferguson, Team: 7Salamanders from Frankfort High School, Mineral County
  2. Sophie Carpenter and Nadia Madenspacher, Team: Get Over It from Musselman High School, Berkeley County
  3. Madelyn Cole and Parker Shrewsbury, Team: Anakin, I have the high ground from Pikeview High School, Mercer County

Software Competition: Middle School

  1. Kaleb Byrge and Thomas Sides, Team: Heatedscorpions from Park Middle School, Raleigh County
  2. Emma Vincent, Team: The DangerousDoggies from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County
  3. Ellie Burns, Team: Lunacat from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County

Balsa Wood Competition: High School

  1. Johnathon Meadows, Team: Productive panthers from Pikeview High School, Mercer County
  2. Nathaniel Vincent, Team: Potato Games from Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County
  3. Alex Gilchrist and Janie Gilchrist, Team: Cheeseburger from Morgantown High School, Monongalia County

Balsa Wood Competition: Middle School

  1. Emma Vincent, Team: TheDangerousDoggies from Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier County
  2. Elizabeth Erwin and Colston Mendez, Team: SuperiorPotatoFarmerz from Teays Valley Christian School, Putnam County
  3. Andrew Simon, Team: BBB (Bridge Building on a Budget) from Park Middle School, Raleigh County

Morgan Smith of Team titanstrong1 from Gilmer County High School also received honors for having the maximum ratio of all submissions in the balsa wood competition.

The following day, the students were given a tour of the New River Gorge Bridge catwalk, courtesy of BridgeWalk, along with their families.

(Photo Courtesy: WVDOT)