Using only pasta and glue, freshman engineering
students will test their design and construction skills on
Sunday, Nov. 9, in the 10th annual Spaghetti Bridge
Seventeen teams, each consisting of two or three
Hopkins students, will compete to see which noodle creation
can hold the most weight. The bridges will go on display at
12:30 p.m. in the SDS Room of the Ross Jones Building in
the Mattin Center, Homewood campus. The weight competition
begins at 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome.
Under the rules of the contest, the bridges can be
made of only spaghetti and glue (epoxy or resin). Each
free-standing bridge must span two level surfaces that are
one meter apart, and each bridge must include a decking of
spaghetti wide enough to allow a "car," represented by a
small block of wood, to pass over it.
During the judging, increments of weight are gradually
added to a platform suspended from the middle of each
bridge until the structure snaps. Its score is the greatest
amount of weight the bridge carried before the collapse. To
date, the best student bridge has held 64 kilograms (140
lbs.). The winning team receives a $100 prize.
The spaghetti bridge contest is one of the most
challenging assignments in an introductory course called
What is Engineering?
"For the students, this is a complete engineering
problem," said Michael Karweit, a Whiting School research
professor who organizes the event. "It begins with lectures
on materials and structures, includes the laboratory
testing of a material, then culminates with design,
construction and testing of a structure using that material
— spaghetti. And like many real-life engineering
problems, it's open-ended. There's no single right