UMKC SCE Hosts First Annual RooBuilders Competition


The first annual RooBuilders bridge-building competition for Kansas City area middle and high school students was held on Saturday, Feb. 22 at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium.

Eleven teams – eight in the high school division and three in the middle school division – competed at the event, testing bridges they had constructed from balsa wood, glue and a card sheet. The competition, which encourages critical thinking and teamwork, challenged students to design, build and test a unique bridge that would be evaluated on its creative design, load capacity and load efficiency.

“The challenge of Building Foundations for the Future is to design, construct and test the most effective road-based bridge out of balsa wood that meets competition evaluation criteria,” explained Megan Hart, RooBuilders program director and civil engineering adjunct assistant professor.

The goal of this new event is to cultivate interest and understanding of the civil engineering profession through interactive competition, making the real-world application more relevant to students.

“Model bridges are intended to be simplified versions of real-world bridges,” said Hart. “By providing students an opportunity for hands-on interaction from design to testing, they get a real taste of the exciting challenges civil engineers experience every day.”

Teams from Congress and Antioch middle schools and teams from Blue Springs, JC Harmon, Notre Dame de Sion, Park Hill South and Wyandotte high schools participated in the competition.

In the high school division, Park Hill South took first place with a total load of 62 pounds and a load efficiency of 433 percent.  They also took the Judge’s Choice award which is given for the bridge the judges felt was most outstanding in that division.  Wyandotte HS (WB Builders) took second place holding a total load of 30 pounds and a load efficiency of 325 percent, Wyandotte HS (Bulldogs) took third place with a load of 22 lbs and load efficiency of 301 percent.  They edged out Notre Dame de Sion by an overall score of one point.

In the middle school division, Congress Middle School held 20 pounds and took first place, Antioch Team 1 came in second, and Antioch Team 2 came in third.  Antioch Team 1 received the Judge’s Choice award.

The competition was kicked off in November with an on-campus modeling session, an experience that makes the RooBuilders competition unique among other similar bridge-building competitions. Middle and high school teams were invited to Flarsheim Hall to learn from SCE’s civil engineering faculty and students about bridge building concepts and create a computer model of their bridge.

This first annual event was a great success and the challenge to build foundations for the future will be issued again next year.  The event was hosted by the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) and SCE’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department.  Judging was provided by HNTB and ASCE’s younger member group.