Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest serves up fun and learning at OC

By College Relations | March 3, 2023

group photo with many participants at the 2023 Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest

Friday marked a triumphant return for a popular pasta-themed community event at Okanagan College, as the 38th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Competition brought loads of fun and friendly competition to a boil.

More than 250 students from elementary through post-secondary converged on OC’s Kelowna campus on Mar. 3, to see whose spaghetti bridge would reign supreme.

In addition to furthering their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), participants of the contest – back for the first time since pre-pandemic – also came away with some valuable lessons in team work.

Students had a chance to work in groups to build bridges on-site during the morning for the team-building competition, while others carefully transported elaborate pre-constructed spaghetti structures from across the valley and as far away as Vancouver.

And for the competitor who traveled the farthest of all, the day yielded a victory more than a decade in the making.

Rouzbeh Rouzbehani first attempted to travel from Iran to Okanagan College for the Contest 12 years ago. Unfortunately, the political situation in his homeland at the time did not allow him to make the journey. The bridge he constructed that year would go untested at OC, but he never forgot it.

“I was incredibly proud of that bridge. It held a lot of weight when I tested it, but sadly I couldn’t bring it to Canada to try for the contest. It inspired me to build again.”

Rouzbehani now lives in Vancouver. When he saw that the contest was back after its pandemic-imposed hiatus, he jumped at the chance to participate.

His hardwork and patience paid off. A dozen years after his first thwarted attempt to enter the contest, Rouzbehani’s bridge beat out all the rest in the Heavyweight category in 2023.

“I am so happy and so excited. I can’t put it into words,” said Rouzbehani. “I’m incredibly proud to be here.”

As the judges inspected his bridge on stage, Rouzbehani spoke to the crowd of students, teachers and parents and encouraged them to follow their dreams as he has.

“Congratulations to all our 2023 winners and participants. We were so impressed by the creativity, skill and determination that students showed in their bridge building,” said Rick Federley, Interim Dean for Science and Technology at Okanagan College. “Above all we were proud of the way in which they worked together and showed tremendous colleagiality to one another as competitors. We hope students came away inspired, and take some time to consider the post-secondary and career paths in front of them in science and technology.”

The 38th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest was powered by the generous support of Lead Sponsors Faction Projects Inc. and Multi Power Products Ltd., and Sponsors: Bird Construction, PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., CTQ Consultants, Interior Testing Services Ltd. and the Okanagan College Students’ Union.

“It was a joy to welcome students back for the contest and we couldn’t be happier with the way the day unfolded,” said event organizer Michelle Lowry of the OC College Relations team. “It was great to see so many smiles and hear the laughter this event always brings. This contest cannot happen without the support of parents, teachers, students, volunteers and our sponsors. A huge thank you to everyone who made today possible and allowed us to offer this great opportunity for competitors from all across the valley.”

As it has for decades, the event also brought family together. OC Business alumna Jennifer Widmer and husband Jeff Widmer brought their children Sophia and Ella to showcase their pre-built bridges in the middle and elementary categories, respectively, while their grandparents cheered them on. Sophia, who attends Canyon Falls Middle School, placed second in the secondary category, just behind Caleb Dyck and Baden Smith of Vernon Christian School who took top spot in the category.

“Surprised, proud, excited,” were the words 7th grader Sophia Widmer used to describe her feelings after the competition wrapped. She hopes to be back to compete again next year.

Complete Results

First – Rouzbeh Rouzbehani and Gelareh Ghomashi– Fairleigh Dickinson University
Bridge weighed 1000 g
Bridge held 94.1 kg

Second – Paulo Balana – Okanagan College
Bridge weighed 986.56 g
Bridge held 44.85 kg

Third – Annabelle, Jenna, Delilah and Olive Pieper – Kelowna Secondary School
Bridge weighed 894.35 g
Bridge held 35.47 kg

Secondary (lightweight)

First – Caleb Dyck, Baden Smith – Vernon Christian School
Second – Sophia Widmer – Canyon Falls Middle School

Third – Joel Sagert, Daniel Chirica – Spring Valley Middle School
Fourth – Eli Anthony, Michael MacDonald, Evan Haycroft, Cohen Sirges – Springvalley Middle School
Fifth – Marcus Overholt, Hunter Twist, Owen Thiessen, Deegan Hough – Springvalley Middle School

Team Building Secondary
First – Justin Vala, Julianna Austen, Nikolas Trakalo, Maidson Ramsay – South Okanagan Secondary
Second – Benjamin Cook, Matthew Mthye, Travis Schaffrick, Nicholas Lang – South Okanagan Secondary
Third – Luke Porter, Andrew Thiessen, Jacob Leyenhorst, Roscoe Kinniburgh – Vernon Christian School

Team Building Post-Secondary
First – Hakan Akkurt, Reyann Siddique, Conner Christiansen, Cohen Thiessen – Okanagan College

View and download high resolution photos from the 38th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest on the College’s Flickr gallery.

A video of Rouzbeh Rouzbehani’s winning bridge testing can be viewed on the College’s Youtube channel.

Tags: Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest, Kelowna, Technologies



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