Bridge and Wind Engineering Teacher Workshop

Accelerate Bridge Construction (ABC) is a topic that spans across numerous disciplines within engineering. K-12 students can be directly exposed to ABC or can be better prepared to learn about ABC through the following classroom activities.

The ABC-UTC sponsored a K-12 teacher workshop that introduced Miami-area teachers to structural engineering, bridge engineering, wind engineering, corrosion engineering, and (most importantly) Accelerated Bridge Construction.

Workshop Photo 1

The workshop focused on introducing the teachers to the state-of-the-art in each field and working with them to develop educational modules for use in the classroom or after-school programs.

The materials used and developed for the camp are provided below. These materials can be used by anyone. Please email David Garber ( with any comments or questions about the activities.

Structural Engineering

Structural engineering is at the heart of Accelerated Bridge Construction; bridges must be designed to stand up. A presentation with a basic introduction to structural engineering and two different activities were created and are provided below. The presentation gives an overview of structural engineering and shows how Accelerated Bridge Construction will play an important role in the future of bridges.

Introductory Presentation

Workshop - Venn Diagram

Note:  The PowerPoint file should be opened in “Read Only” mode for presentation to students. Slide notes are provided.

Thin-Plate Bridge

Workshop - Thin Plate Bridge

Note:  For the activity shown, teams were given 36″ of 3″ wide by 1/16″-thick balsa wood, hot glue guns, and told to span 9″ (12″ from the outside of the supports). All the teams developed sections that could hold 15 pounds at the center. Paper or cardboard and tape could also be used.

2 Scales, 1 Beam, and Load

Workshop - Two Scales

Note:  For the activity shown, scales were placed at 12″ apart (center-to-center). Wood 2″x4″s were used as supports (4″ in length) and for the beam (24″ in length). A 0.5-lb. steel plate was used to load the beam.

Bridge Engineering and ABC

In the future, all of bridge engineering will likely be done using Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques and technologies. A presentation is provided to give a brief introduction into both bridge engineering and ABC. A balsa wood bridge activity was designed to give students the opportunity to build their own bridge and better understand some of the challenges associated with ABC.

Workshop - Balsa Wood Bridge Failing

Both the presentation and the activity introduce the importance of prefabrication, the benefits of designing with repeatable parts, and the overall value provided by ABC.

Introductory Presentation

Workshop - Bridge Introduction

Note:  The PowerPoint file should be opened in “Read Only” mode for presentation to students. Slide notes are provided.

Balsa Wood Bridge (ABC-Style)

Workshop - Bridge Activity

Note:  There are many different materials and rules that can be used for this activity. A set of sample rules that go along with the activity description materials can be found here:  SAMPLE RULES FOR ACTIVITY.

Wind Engineering

Bridges are most vulnerable to collapse during the construction period, and one of the main risks to a bridge during construction is wind loading. Wind Engineering is introduced in this section to give students a better understanding of this risk and allow them to see the added benefits of decreasing construction times provided by Accelerate Bridge Construction.

A small-scale wind tunnel was designed using posterboard and hot glue. Instructions can be found HERE. A pdf copy of the presentation from the workshop can be found HERE.

Workshop - Wind Tunnel

This wind tunnel can be used for several different activities. Two of these is to show vortex shedding and lift.

Workshop - Wind Concepts

Corrosion Engineering

One of the main reasons for the deterioration of our nation’s infrastructure is corrosion. Corrosion Engineering is introduced here to give students a better understanding of one of the main reasons Accelerated Bridge Construction is so badly needed today. Several activities were developed to demonstrate the electric current and chemical reactions that drive corrosion in bridges. A description of the activities can be found HERE.

Workshop - Corrosion Activities



Webpage created by:  David Garber (