Bridge Building Competition Guidelines



1. Purpose and Overview
The annual Model Bridge Building Contest is a statewide program aimed at providing interaction and communication among practicing engineers, high school students, and other professionals. Its underlying objectives are to enhance the appeal of engineering careers to high school students, begin establishing their relationships with the professional community, and improve the prospects that such careers will be mutually beneficial to both society and the individual.

The top winners from each region in the state competition are eligible to advance to the International Contest. Previously, a student from Parker, Colorado took first place in the International competition and received a four-year scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology, worth over $40,000.00! For more information on the International Contest, see the National Bridge Contest link.

TEACHERS: If you would like assistance getting a program started in your school, email We'll be glad to help!

Mentors for teachers and students are available. E-mail for your requests. Please encourage your students to participate! It is an exciting and rewarding experience for them, and for the coaches too. If you or other faculty members are unable to assist students, a NSPE-CO member in your area may be able to help. If you have any questions about past or future competitions, please contact Steve Conklin at 303-480-1160 or by e-mail at

2. Sponsors of Contest
The contest is sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers - Colorado (NSPE-CO), the Denver office of the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado Foundation (ACEC Foundation).

3. Eligibility for Contest

Any high school or junior high school student may enter one model bridge for individual competition. Teams of students may construct bridges, but only one student may be listed and recognized as the entrant. ONLY ONE STUDENT PER BRIDGE IS ELIGIBLE FOR PRIZES. There is no limit to the number of official bridge models that may be entered from any one school. The winners of the school team competition will be determined by the average of the three highest efficiencies of official entries of that school.

4. Requirements of the Teacher
A teacher in each school shall support the contest by:

a)    encouraging students to construct model bridges.

b)    assisting students in complying with the specifications.

c)    holding a school competition or practice-test if possible, to allow students a "trial run" of their design.

d)    assisting students with entering their bridges in the State Competition.

5. Qualification
Bridges will be checked against all technical specifications prior to testing. Bridges that do not meet the specifications in their entirety, as solely determined by the contest judges, will be disqualified from the official contest.

Bridges that do not qualify may still be tested as "unofficial" entries dependent upon available time in the judgment of the contest sponsors. Unofficial bridges are not eligible for prizes and are not included in the standings, for either individual or team competition purposes. All decisions of the judges are final.

6. On-Site Modifications
Details to be announced.

7. Changes
The contest rules for the Colorado Contest are based on the International Contest rules and are subject to revision. Updates will be posted on the NSPE-CO website under the Contest Rules section. While every effort will be made to publicize all changes in a timely manner, participants are responsible for complying with all changes.

8. Location, Time of Contest, and Registration
Details to be announced.

9. Mail-in Entries
Mailed bridges should be packaged to withstand any damage that may occur while in transit. The address for mail-in entry is:

Bridge Building Contest, ATTENTION 86-68530
Bureau of Reclamation
P.O. Box 25007
Building 67, Room 152
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0007

Each bridge must have the students name and school clearly printed in ink on the bridge. All mail-in bridges must have a tag firmly attached to the bridge with the following information clearly printed in ink:

  • Student's name
  • Name of the sponsoring teacher (if any)
  • School name
  • City in which school is located
  • School return address
  • Region (1 or 2)

Mail-in entries will be returned to the student along with any contest related documents.

10. Awards

Certificates will be awarded to the five contestants in each region with the highest efficiency numbers and the three schools in each region with the highest average of top three efficiency numbers. In addition, a special Judge's Award of Merit will be given to an individual contestant irrespective of region. 

The top two winners from each region will be invited to compete in the international contest (time and location to be announced at a later date).

11. Bass Wood Suppliers
The following is a list of various suppliers for bass wood. Remember, we are using 3/32" x 3/32" sticks this year!

Specialized Balsa Wood LLC
(970) 461-WOOD (9663)
3/16" x 3/16" sticks:
24" long = $0.16 per stick
36" long = $0.28 per stick
48" long = $0.46 per stick
You can access this special rate over the Internet at or you can contact Jake Zimmer at  
Lone Star Balsa
3/16 x 3/16 x 36" Basswood- .30 each
3/16 x 3/16 x 48" Basswood- .40 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 36" Basswood- .25 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 48" Basswood- .33 each
National Balsa Company
3/16 x 3/16 x 36" Basswood- .28 each
3/16 x 3/16 x 48" Basswood- .46 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 36" Basswood- .24 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 48" Basswood- .30 each
Superior Balsa & Hobby Supply
3/16 x 3/16 x 36" Basswood- .28 each
3/16 x 3/16 x 48" Basswood- .46 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 36" Basswood- .22 each
3/32 x 3/32 x 48" Basswood- .30 each

12. Questions

Questions regarding the contest rules should be directed to John Migliaccio (see Contest Representatives). John will summarize the questions he receives and will post them on the Questions and Answers link on the website. Questions in regards to the contest should be directed to Steve Conklin. E-mail addresses are shown below, and are welcome and encouraged. Updates to the "Contest Rules" and "Questions and Answers" will be on-going. Please check the NSPE-CO website frequently at for current information and modifications.

13. Contest Representatives

Steve Conklin
Executive Director
National Society of Professional Engineers - Colorado Chapter
PO Box 261354
Denver CO 80226

Westin T. Joy, P.E.
Bureau of Reclamation
Concrete and Structural Laboratory
Engineering and Lab Services Division
PO Box 25007, Mail Code 86-68530
Denver, CO 80225


In the Pikes Peak region, there is another competition which is only open to Senior High students.  The contact for that competition is:

Jason Helton