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2014 January 18

Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:23
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Last year’s bridge design did not work well for the 2014 Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest (formerly the West Point Bridge Design Contest):

Bridge design costing about $169.9k in the 2013 contest.  Note: I've deliberately distorted the picture to make it difficult to blindly copy the design, as I had problems with middle-school students using my published designs to cheat on their homework.  The truss design I have here can be used as inspiration, but not copied directly.

Bridge design costing about $169.9k in the 2013 contest.

When I tried a similar design in the West Point Bridge Designer 2014, I couldn’t get the cost below about $172k, but a simpler design was cheaper:

$167.3k bridge design for West Point Bridge Designer 2014.

$167.3k bridge design for West Point Bridge Designer 2014.

This design is currently 12 of 41 in the open contest, so clearly one can do better. I don’t expect it to stay high on the leaderboard for long.  It would already be much worse than that on the consolidated board, since the top 10 on the open board only fall in the top 50 on the consolidated one.

I think that the contest would be more interesting to me if they had provided an API for testing bridges.  Then the challenge would be to write bridge optimization software that explored the design space much more thoroughly and tweaked the designs.  It might be possible to do that this year, as the source code is available from sourceforge.  I’m not interested enough in the optimization problem to try to interface to their Java code, but it might be a good way to make a college-level version of the Bridge Designer Contest.

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  1. I improved my price to $165.5k with a 3-hinge Pratt arch at 12m.

    Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 January 20 @ 12:24 | Reply

  2. Do you know how the leaderboard works?
    I submitted a bridge and the system told me I was #19 of 56, but my name is not on the list at
    Since right next to the 19 place I am told that I am “Registered in Open Competition”, I am pretty much sure that I submitted it to the open, not the school competition.
    Am I looking for results in a wrong place?


    Comment by Sandra — 2014 January 22 @ 21:31 | Reply

    • The leaderboard seems to be manually updated during business hours on the East Coast about once a day. I guess they didn’t have any web programmers to spare for making the updates automatic.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 January 22 @ 22:55 | Reply

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