Spaghetti Bridge contest comes to a dramatic finish

The 33rd annual Okanagan College Spaghetti Bridge Building Heavyweight competition came to a surprising finish after a series of disqualifications launched the team of Anna Offenwanger and Ephraim Nowak from UBC Okanagan into the top spot.

Offenwanger and Nowak were sitting in third place after each of the five entries had been put to the test on the Fettuccine Fault Line. Their bridge withstood an impressive 184.3 kgs of load before exploding in front of a packed lecture theatre at the College.

Two teams from Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby presented beautifully constructed bridges that performed better but were disqualified due to a rule violation. Brendan Mattenley’s bridge held 258.9 kgs of load and the team of Justin Dessert and Hanya Riddick built a bridge that made it to 244.5 kgs – but unfortunately neither of those bridges qualified for the top prizes.

“Today’s competition ended in an unexpected way,” explained head judge Dr. Andrew Hay, Vice President Education for the College. “We have a very specific set of rules that we apply evenly to all of the bridges that enter the competition. This year we had two wonderfully designed bridges that had some continuous strands of glue securing the pasta. Sadly, the rules specify that is not allowed. It’s unfortunate to see students who work so hard on this kind of project turned away without a prize; we know how much effort they put into building these spectacular structures. Certainly the students were not attempting to gain any advantage – it was simply a case of not fully understanding the rigidity of the rules. When you are pushing the limits of engineering design, some unique solutions emerge, and we commend the students for their level of innovation.”

This is not the first year a bridge has been disqualified. In 2010 teams from Hungary and Okanagan College had bridges disqualified for rule violations.

The team from UBC Okanagan took home the top prize of $1,500. The second place prize went to James Dessert, also from Charles Bloom Secondary. His bridge withstood 128.3 kgs. Third place was not awarded, as the other bridges tested did not make the minimum threshold of 10 kgs of load. Prize money for the event is generously provided by the event’s sponsors: the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC), PCL Construction, Okanagan College Students’ Union, Multi Power Products, AECOM, OP Machine Ltd., Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEG), WSP Group, and Interior Testing Services Ltd.

The Spaghetti Bridge Heavyweight world record of 443.58 kilograms was established in Kelowna in 2009 by a team from Hungary and continues to be undefeated.

Hundreds of other students put their engineering skills to the test in other categories. In the Secondary category, which sees students pre-make bridges for testing on site, students from Charles Bloom Secondary swept the top three spots. In the Secondary Team Building category, students build bridges on site. The winners of that contest were from Charles Bloom, and King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm.

Okanagan College swept the Post-Secondary Team Building competition for the second year in a row.

Complete Results

First – Anna Offenwanger and Ephraim Nowak
Bridge weighed: 974.3 grams
Bridge held: 184.3 kg

Second – James Dessert, Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby
Bridge weighed: 989.06 g
Bridge held: 128.3 kg

Team Building, Post-Secondary
First – Zack Ricketts, Jordan Klippenstein, Geoff Pill and Connor Buick (Okanagan College)
Second – Zak Furiak, Justin Lange, Jesse Padda and Bob Briggs (Okanagan College)
Third – Daniel Otto, Jennifer Zarr, Cam Sabados and Jessica MacDonald (Okanagan College)

Team Building, Secondary
First – Esther Drysdale and Shale Nierman (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Second – Madison Dewitt and Paul Unger (King’s Christian School)
Third- Marissa Brandsma and Jessica Roodzant (King’s Christian School)

Individual Secondary
First – James Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Second– Hanya Riddick (Charles Bloom Secondary)
Third – Justin Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary)