2018 Parent/Child Bridge Engineering Summer Camp

This page contains a summary of the activities and resources from the 2018 Parent/Child Bridge Engineering Summer Camp. For more information on the camp or ABC-UTC Workforce Development activities, please contact David Garber.

Thank you to all the participants, sponsors, and helpers who made this event possible!

Photographs From the Camp

Summer Camp 2018

Day 1

Breakfast and Introduction

The three-day camp kicked off with breakfast, a welcome and introduction to the camp, and an introduction to structural engineering by Dr. Garber.

Paper Bridge

The first activity of the camp was an introduction to structural engineering through a paper bridge activity. Families saw how a piece of paper can be made into a beam that can hold a large amount of weight simply by folding it to change its cross sectional geometry. A handout with the details of the activities can be found HERE.


Bridge Designer Software

After an introduction to bridges, families explored the ways different types of bridges support the loads of vehicles and cargo using a  free software called Bridge Designer. This software is available for free from http://bridgedesigner.org/download/.

This software was used to develop ideas to be used for the balsa wood bridge project.


Balsa Wood Bridge – Preliminary Construction

After a brief introduction to the balsa wood bridge construction project, participants built their designs and tested them for strength and durability. Rules for this competition can be downloaded HERE.


Wall of Wind Tour

The group then toured the Wall of Wind facility, one of the world-class facilities housed at FIU. Some of the testing at WOW can be viewed live HERE.

Day 2

Miami Dade Public Library System

The day started off with a presentation about all of the free resources offered by the Miami Dade Public Library System. Everyone at the camp was able to sign up for a free library card!

Finishing Balsa Wood Bridge Construction

Construction of the balsa wood bridges was then finished.

All groups successfully finished their bridges!

Bridges were tested by driving a car carrying 1lb over them and then tested to failure by stacking small steel plates on them.

There was a grad student/professor submission to the competition as well. Scissors were taken to it to finally cause collapse.

FIU Main Campus Trip

The group then went to FIU‘s main campus for a visit.

Families are reminded about a scholarship program for high school students called Raise.me, which gives high school students the opportunity to earn scholarship money for various achievements (including earning A’s, volunteering, and going on FIU tours).

Day 3

3D Printing at Miami Beach Urban Studios

The last day of the camp started off at the Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS). MBUS is an FIU campus with a focus on 3D printing. The families were able to get a taste of 3D printing and see the potential uses for it during their visit to MBUS. Families took a 3D printed bridge and made it their own by decorating all of the different components.

We then assembled the 3D printed bridge!

The group was then given a tour of MBUS by John Stuart, the Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement and Executive Director of MBUS.

Activities at Miami Beach Regional Public Library

The final camp activities were held at the YOUmake makerspace at the Miami Beach Regional Library, part of the greater Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS).  Families had an opportunity to partake in hands-on experiences at a variety of STEAM activity stations coordinated by Athanasia Fitos and staff from the Allapattah Branch Library.

The families then had story time and read an engineering story (like those found here).

The families received certificates for their attendance, a K’nex Introduction to Structures – Bridges kit, and a few engineering story books to continue their learning at home.

Thank you again to all who attended and helped with the event!