Letourneau University Engineering Students build that Bridge - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Letourneau University Engineering Students build that Bridge

Letourneau University Engineering Students build that Bridge

Students watch as a bridge takes a heavy load. Students watch as a bridge takes a heavy load.

It seems there’s always something unusual going on at Letourneau University in Longview, in fact it’s so often maybe we should set up a news bureau on campus.

We take a look at some engineering students who are bridging the gap between concept and execution by building a bridge.

Letourneau University Engineering students, like most of us, will cross that bridge when they come to it. But, unlike most us, they may have to build it first, or at least part of it.

First year engineering students are learning things don’t always work the same in the real world as they do on paper by building half a cantilever bridge.

And they have to carry that weight as Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering David Dittenber explains.

“To test them we put on some 55 gallon steel drums, pump them full of water as the bridges get heavier and heavier the bridges eventually deflect and eventually will fail. What kind of load they can carry is what we’re looking to see,” Dittenber explained.

The bridges are pretty much the same design, but are structurally a little different and had to come in on budget. Much to everyone’s surprise the first two didn’t go into the pond, although the first had structural failure.

Then for half-time a group of juniors tried to put together a metal bridge in twenty minutes. It’s part of a national competition. Unfortunately it took them about 22 minutes, but they’ll keep practicing.

Back at the cantilevers the bridges were really holding up.

Ben Heckard and his group never dreamed they’d build a half a bridge.

“To be honest we didn’t really know how it was going to do. We hoped it would hold at least a thousand and it looks like it held about 1500, so we’re well over what we thought it would. We kind of wanted to see it break just for fun but we’re really glad it didn’t and really glad it succeeded like it did,” Heckard said.

“So you guys got a hundred,” I observed.

“Yeah, absolutely we got a hundred,” Heckerd said with a smile.

They say one of the hardest things in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn, but neither of those things will happen with these bridges to nowhere. Well, maybe they’re bridges to knowledge.

The cantilever bridges will be disassembled and the wood recycled for another Letourneau University engineering project.

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