Updated November 30, 2015 by the 2016 Maryland Wood Bridge Challenge Committee

Maryland Wood Bridge Challenge - Sponsors


Please check the frequently asked questions for the 2017 competition. Answers to FAQs for the 2017 Specifications can be found by clicking on the links, and will be updated as new questions are asked. Please e-mail Jeff Krummel, Competition Chair, at J.S.Krummel@gmail.com if you have any question not yet answered or require additional clarification.


Who may participate?

The competition is open to ALL MARYLAND STUDENTS, public, private, or home-schooled, through any school, after-school club, or private organization (such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Club) up to high school graduation. Generally competitors are high school students, but, in the name of learning & enjoyment, our competition doors are open to all. (Only high school students will be eligible for the International Contest.)

Do I need to register before the challenge?
Registration prior to the challenge is not required. However, if teachers could e-mail at least an estimate of the number of teams they will have in the week before the competition, this will greatly help us allocate resources.

Do I need to be present on the day of the challenge?
It is highly recommended that students attend the event, to be able to make any desired changes & learn from the testing experience (members buckle, pieces fly, & action is explained by a professional engineer). However, we understand this is not always possible (religious reasons, athletic conflicts, etc.) and permit students, no matter the reason, to mail or leave their bridge at the museum or send it with their school contingent.

John Hopkins assists competitors in testing the bridges, and students – at the test stand and sitting in the audience – can learn about where, how, & why each bridge breaks and how a bridge can be designed & strengthened to resist this. Mentors, teachers, & parents should strongly encourage attendance, as much can be learned. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure their bridge arrives by Friday, February 03 if they are not participating in person or delegating a proxy to bring the bridge. Judges will not glue any pieces damaged during shipping. Bridges shipped for testing will not be mailed back.

How are the bridges judged?
Regional & overall winners will be determined solely based on structural efficiency (mass held divided by bridge mass). Each bridge must meet the

current specifications to be eligible for any prizes. There are other prizes, including Structural Design Excellence, People’s Choice, & Lightest Bridge (able to hold 10 pounds), and monetary prizes for an optional (but heavily encouraged) technical report component.

If a bridge does not meet the specifications after initial check-in, student(s) will be allowed to fix their bridges, if possible. It is recommended that students bring supplies on the day of the challenge for this purpose. Altered bridges will be required to revisit the check-in table. Any bridge not meeting all rules may participate as “unofficial” but will not be eligible for any prizes.

Is an oral or written report required for this challenge?
No, neither a written nor oral report will be required for the 2017 competition. All that is required for this challenge is the design & construction of a basswood bridge meeting the specifications.

However, we are offering an optional technical report component (see 2017 specifications, p. 1), and monetary awards will support our goal to also provide opportunities to practice & enhance the same communication skills paramount to college & professional success. Please see the writing guide. Technical reports will be due Sunday, January 22, or two weeks prior to the main competition.

Are competitors allowed to participate in teams?

Maryland does permit team entries. However, the International Contest only recognizes individual entries due to the prizes available at the level, including a scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology. Therefore, we encourage discussions between students in the interest of mutual learning, but ask that you consider International Contest stipulations in your team constitutions.

In order to avoid the need to decide who will proceed, it is recommended that teams collaborate on bridge design concepts, then each student construct their chosen alternate. The challenge between team members may come down to quality of construction, which can “make or break” a bridge.

How do I qualify for the International Wood Bridge Challenge?
In order to qualify for the 2017 International Bridge Building Contest on Saturday, April 22 in Dallas, TX, you must be a Maryland high school student and place 1st or 2nd in a Division I region. Please track the International Contest website for the official specifications. (The Maryland specifications do typically follow the International specifications as much as possible, with slight differences.)

What can I expect on the day of the Challenge?
The museum doors will open at 8:00am. Bridges can queue in a line where they will register, receive a number, & pass through a check against the rules. Bridges will generally be tested in numerical order, commencing at 9:15am following a short welcome & introduction at 9:00am. All competitors are encouraged to watch testing, as much can be learned from the modes of failure. Snacks & beverages will be available for purchase. Awards presentation typically occurs around 1:30pm, depending on the total number of entered bridges.

May I enter more than one bridge?
You may enter as many bridges as you choose to build. You must declare one bridge as “official” after passing specifications BEFORE testing.

What can I win?
Prizes vary each year depending on sponsor funding. Past prizes have included scholarships, Amazon & Best Buy gift cards, plaques, Apple technology, & books about bridges. Monetary prizes are guaranteed for winner(s) in the technical report competition.