On April 21, 18 high school students and four teachers from various schools in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) attended a student bridge building event held alongside TAC’s recent Spring Technical Meetings.
Photo by Glenn Cole, TAC
The activity, sponsored by the TAC Foundation and planned by TAC’s Education and Human Resources Development Council, was modelled after the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) student outreach program developed by the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The overall goal of the TRAC program, currently used by 22 U.S. states, is to attract students from Grades 7 to 12 to the fields of transportation and civil engineering and hopefully inspire some to become future transportation engineers. The outreach program provides teachers curriculum enhancements to demonstrate engineering and transportation principles to high school and middle school students.
Students in Grades 9 to 12 were divided into groups to design and build truss bridges out of balsa wood and hot glue, using the Bridge Builder modules (materials, tools and software purchased from TRAC). The six single-span truss bridges (75 mm wide and 250 mm long) were then weighed and load tested (using 500 g sand bags) to determine load to weight ratios for equitable comparison of each structure.
This student event, conducted by representatives of TRAC, including Linda Clifton, TRAC Manager, U.S., was very well received by participating students and teachers, as well as members of the OCDSB. The four schools represented were each given a Bridge Builder module (and extra balsa wood) to keep to use to train additional students.
After the event, a presentation was made to TAC’s Chief Engineers’ Council as a way to make Canadian jurisdictions aware of the TRAC program and to encourage young people to consider transportation and civil engineering as a viable and exciting career.