2019 Parent/Child Bridge Engineering Summer Camp

As part of the ABC-UTC Workforce Development activities, the ABC-UTC hosted the 2019 Parent/Child Bridge Engineering Summer Camp. This page contains a summary of the activities and resources from the 2019 Parent/Child Bridge Engineering Summer Camp.

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

  • FIU’s ABC-UTC Team (Atorod Azizinamini, Raheel Baksh, Kingsley Lau, Armin Mehrabi, Nathalie Jimenez, and Lailah Johnson)
  • Education Effect (Donnie Hale, Lovely Noel, Shari Benjamin, Chanika Young)
  • Miami Beach Urban Studios (John Stuart, Colette Mello, Jacqueline Thompson)
  • Miami-Dade Public Library System and YOUmake at the Miami Beach Regional Library (Athanasia Fitos, Marlon Moore, and the staff of Miami Beach and Allapattah Branch Libraries)
  • Wall of Wind (Jason Gkountis)
  • Archer-Western – de Moya Group Joint Venture, FDOT, MDX and others with the I-395 Project (Oscar Gonzalez)
  • Other volunteers (Alfredo Falcon, Francisco Chitty, Fatima Vieira, and Isabella Zapata)

Photographs From the Camp

All photos will be posted soon.

Day 1

Breakfast and Introduction

The four-day camp kicked off with breakfast, a welcome to the camp, FIU, and introduction to ABC by Dr. Azizinamini, and introduction to the camp and 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 Design

After a brief introduction to the balsa wood bridge construction project, participants developed their initial designs. Rules for this competition can be downloaded HERE.


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 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!

Corrosion Engineering – Limes and Lightbulbs

Dr. Lau introduced the students to corrosion engineering and its importance to the future of our infrastructure. The first activity was used to show how the interaction of two common metals (zinc and copper) can be used with limes to produce electrical current flow to light a light bulb.

The second activity was used to show the basic concept of how a structure can be protected through cathodic protection by electroplating a nickel coin with copper from a penny.

The details for both of these experiments can be downloaded HERE.


Balsa Wood Bridge – Construction

Teams took their developed designs and started constructing their balsa wood bridges. The bridges were prefabricated in three different pieces, which were put together on Day 3 to construct the full bridge.

Wall of Wind Tour

The group then toured the Wall of Wind facility, one of the world-class facilities housed at FIU.

Day 3

Presentation by Young Engineer

A young engineer (Alfredo Falcon) came and talked to participants about why he chose engineering, how he became and engineer, and what it is like to be an engineer.

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.

Videos of all the tests are shown below.

Field Trip to I-395 Signature Bridge Project

After testing the bridges, participants went to the field office for the I-395/SR 836/I-95 Design-Build Project.

A bus then took participants to some of the early construction going on for the project.

Day 4

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.

The group was then given a tour of MBUS by Jacqueline Thompson 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!

For more information on the camp or ABC-UTC Workforce Development activities, please contact David Garber.