As another truckload of broken, glue-encrusted pasta heads to the dump, the Okanagan’s newest crop of budding engineers get a chance to evaluate their mistakes and successes in preparation for next year’s most popular carb loading event.
Okanagan College’s 32nd Annual spaghetti bridge competition wrapped up Friday afternoon, after another successful run. For those who haven’t squeezed their way in to see the popular event in person, it’s a spectacle to behold.
Noodles are woven and glued into mini-bridges, then used to carry a growing weight that’s broadcast to an audience, through a digital scale. As it starts to give way, pops and cracks echo across the room. Then, if you’re lucky, the whole bridge will shatter, creating a confetti-effect onstage.
It’s an abrupt end to a project that some dedicate hundreds of hours to, yet students continue to line up to take part.
Rick Schouten, Keanan MIllar, Zack Ricketts and Gurleen Gang embarked on their first spaghetti bridge challenge this year, and they all said they’d do it again.
All four are first year civil engineering students at the Kelowna campus and took on the project outside their coursework.
“We did it in our spare time… what little we have,” said Millar, noting that the preparing for the contest coincided with midterms.
It was fun… and stressful at times, Schouten and Gang said.
And, noted Ricketts, it looks good on scholarship applications.
As they readied themselves for the bridge-breaking spectacle, they explained a few tricks to building a superior pasta bridge.
“You have to find the right materials,” said Millar.
“We went to a lot of local delis to find the strongest pasta.”
When asked which Kelowna shop carried the best, all four chimed in simultaneously, “Valorosa Foods, for sure.”
They also thought a lot about what design would be the heartiest and unanimously landed on the spoke design.
With the design and materials in place, they spent another week putting it together.
It was a pretty good design, and they were pretty sure it would hold its own. The only trouble was that it weighed 250 grams more than it was supposed to, so hours before it was brought on stage, they were still hacking away pieces so it could enter.
So much shaving was required that they weren’t entirely sure the structure would hold.
“I was really confident about it before,” said Schouten.
In the post secondary category, they didn’t place in the Top 3.
First place in that category went to Anna Offenwanger, Marissa White, Ephraim Nowak from UBC Okanagan, second was bestowed upon Kyler Lucas, Rhett Munson, Curtis Hull, Taylor Milsom from Okanagan College and third was awarded to Julie Humphries, Robert Kemmler, Derek Penson, Siyuan Liu also from Okanagan College.
Adrian Schartner, 12, from Lumby placed first with his bridge weighing 982.6 grams and supporting 275.6 kilograms before spectacularly collapsing in front of cheering friends, peers, teachers and parents. His bridge was the only one to break the 200-kilogram pressure threshold. Brendan Mattenley placed second with 196.68 kilograms of pressure, and in third was defending champion James Dessert with 171.83 kilograms of pressure.
“We knew we wanted curved bridges, those always do well in the competition. For my bridge, I created a heavier arch by using four strands of barilla. While it’s a lighter pasta, having more of it made it stronger,” said said Schartner, who is home-schooled.
For building the strongest bridge, he received a $1500 prize cheque, courtesy of the event’s sponsors: the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC), PCL Construction, Okanagan College Students’ Union, MMM Group, AECOM, OP Machine Ltd., Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEG), WSP Group, and Interior Testing Services Ltd
All in all 248 participating students created recipes for success with their bridges. Students from Lumby and Salmon Arm in the north all the way to Osoyoos in the south participated in building bridges in both demonstration and competition categories.
In the team-building category, 58 teams registered (48 in secondary and 10 in the post-secondary division). The Spaghetti Bridge world record of 443.58 kilograms was established in Kelowna in 2009 by a team from Hungary and continues to be undefeated.