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Bridge Project

Problem Definition: Design a Bridge to span a given distance while supporting a maximum load using a minimum materials.

Project Goals
The goals for this project are for students to: Learn the design process. See practical applications for trigonometry, physics, and engineering statics (force analysis). Improve skills associated with collecting data and drawing meaningful conclusions. Experience the usefulness of prototype testing. Recognize the necessity of good communication skills for engineers by completing memos, reports, drawings, and presentations.

Introduction to Bridge
Bridge Type Truss Bridge Arch bridge Suspension Bridge Cantilever Bridge

Truss Bridge
Truss design is to support the bridge deck The truss may have ompression or tension The joint of truss is important

Truss(force analysis)
Loads members in tension and compression. Members are pinned at joints (Moment = 0). Triangles provide stability and strength.
Top members in Compression. Bottom members in Tension.

Hint - Imagine entire truss wrapped in rubber skin, so you have a large rubber box. When you bend it, where would the wrinkles be? They indicate compression.

Ways to strengthen members in bending.
Decrease overall length (deflections). Cross section design (moment of inertia) Use stronger materials (elastic modulus).



Axis of bending Tension

Arch bridge
Appear mostly in Ancient time New arch bridge is modified to reduce the material

Function of Arch structure

Puts members in compression. Need horizontal support at abutments.


Suspension Bridge
Replace the Beam with cable Reduce the need for the Pier , Girder and Truss

Puts members in tension. Carries weight up to the top of the towers. Good for long spans.

Cantilever Bridge
No support at the bridge it self The material must be very strong Or the structure must be different

Box Girder Bridge

Box structure reduce the weight and material Increase the strength on top and bottom to resist compression and tension

Project Constraints

Size: See above & 100 stick limit per bridge Shape: Original ideas encouraged!

Strength: Must support a minimum of 15 lbs.

Constraints: Building Materials

100 Wood tongue depressors (6) Glue guns and glue sticks and wood glue String

Scoring Equation
Score = Load at Failure(performance) Weight of Bridge(cost) As engineers, you want to maximize the load held using the least amount of material.

Testing Procedure
2 dowel
2 x 6 thin plate

testing jig

Project Break-down
Project Intro (Problem Definition) Component Strength Tests (Information Gathering) Individual Brainstorming of Ideas (Idea Generation) Group Prototype Brainstorming (Idea generation) Prototype Selection (Idea selection) Full-Scale Prototype Construction (Implementation) Prototype Testing (Information Gathering) Engineering Analysis w/ software (Information Gathering) Redesign (Idea generation) Final bridge construction (Implementation) Final Test Competition! (Information Gathering)

Project Schedule
Timeline: Prototype Design, Build, Test 1 week Final Design, Build, Test 2 weeks Presentation and report 1 to 2 classes after Final Test

Design and testing Bridge Ideas -10% Components test Memo-5% Prototype bridge performance-5% Draft Report-5% Project report Bridge Final Presentation-10% Competition-5%

Engineering Fundamentals
Mechanics of Materials Construction Methods & Hints!

What is the easiest way to break a tongue depressor?

Pull? Push? Twist? Shear? Bend?

Principle of Scissors

Engineering terms - tension, compression, torsion, shear, & bending


Thus bridge design Dos & Donts:

avoid bending bridge members when possible. avoid compressing long bridge members causes buckling (a kind of bending).

load members in tension and compression (short) when possible. brace bending members when possible.

Bridge Type we have learned

Truss Bridge Arch Bridge Suspension Bridge Cantilever Bridge
Box Girder Bridge

Which orientation of a beam is stronger under bending and why? vs.
Axis of bending


Arch members are in T or C?

Label members in T and C


How can you improve your bridge design?

Incorporate truss structure (triangles). Design a 3-D structure from the start! Use short members in compression. Use string for tension members.(Reduce material and weight) Avoid overloading joints. Strengthen base supports and load point.

Component Test-Compression and buckle Test-1

Compress your spaghetti until it start to buckle(When you dont feel you need to apply additional force but the structure still keep bending)

Hold(use you hand) the center point to see how much force you need to increase to have buckling

Hold another two point to see how much force you need to increase to reach buckling

Component Test-Compression and buckle Test-2

Cut the spaghetti in half and try again
Cut the spaghetti in half again and try again

Record all the force and Test Situation

Tension Test on the joint

Specimen preparation
Use four depressor
Two as a group. Glue them together Drill one hole on the each group Overlap two group according to test procedure and glue them together Use hook to hold the structure Start tension and compression test by force gauge and scale Do unit conversion if necessary Take your record home and make excel plot and report

Fatigue Test
Bend Paper clip and count how many cycle it is needed to break it! Test 5 Paper clip

Torsion Test
Twist a chalk and see how it break Explain why it happen(explain in Components test Memo )