Model Bridge Competition

The Model Bridge Competition (MBC) has been a tradition at the Capital District celebration of National Engineers Week, encouraging future engineers since 1983! Over 100 high school students from around the region are expected to participate each year.

Students in Grades 9-12 build a balsa wood arch or truss type bridge. Each model is judged on its aesthetics (design and craftsmanship) and is then weighed, measured, and loaded to failure by a testing machine. 

The models are 400 mm long and no greater than 100 mm wide and 200 mm high. Model efficiency scores are computed based upon maximum load at failure divided by the weight of the model.

Previous Winners

Congratulations to our past winners on their achievements! Our Model Bridges are rated on three criteria: Load Carried, Efficiency, and Aesthetics.

Individual Student Results

YearLoad Carried (lbs)EfficiencyAesthetics
2019Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 371

Rensselaer
Score: 2.45
Rensselaer
2018Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 469

Rensselaer
Score: 3.09
Ballston Spa
2017Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 525

Rensselaer
Score: 5.50


North Colonie
2016Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 341

Rensselaer
Score: 3.76

Rensselaer
2015Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 287

South Colonie
Score: 3.14

Ballston Spa
2014South Colonie
Load (lbs): 359

South Colonie
Score: 4.19

Ballston Spa
2013South Colonie
Load (lbs): 312

South Colonie
Score: 2.76

Rensselaer
2012South Colonie
Load (lbs): 445

South Colonie
Score: 4.42

Rensselaer
2011Heatly School
Load (lbs): 276

South Colonie
Score: 3.44

Ballston Spa
2010South Colonie
Load (lbs): 377

South Colonie
Score: 3.71

Schenectady
2009South Colonie
Load (lbs): 281
South Colonie
Score: 4.06

South Glens Falls
2008South Glens Falls
Load (lbs): 238

Milford
Score: 2.27

South Colonie
2007Troy
Load (lbs): 238

South Colonie
Score: 5.71

South Glens Falls

Highest Average Student Results per School

YearLoad CarriedEfficiency
2019LaSalle
Load (lbs): 254.0
Rensselaer
Score: 1.36
2018Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 216.7
Rensselaer
Score: 1.81
2017Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 234.0
Rensselaer
Score: 2.18
2016Rensselaer
Load (lbs): 152.6
Rensselaer
Score: 1.72
2015South Colonie
Load (lbs): 182.3
South Colonie
Score: 2.11
2014South Colonie
Load (lbs): 174.2
South Colonie
Score: 1.83
2013Ticonderoga
Load (lbs): 169.0
South Colonie
Score: 1.65

This competition is possible thanks to funding from proceeds from the Capital District celebration of National Engineers Week, donations of equipment and supplies, and the efforts of many dedicated volunteers. The following organizations sponsor the competition by providing volunteers, funding, equipment, and/or supplies:

  • Foundation for Engineering Education (lead organization for the Capital District celebration of National Engineers Week).
  • Structural Engineering Institute of the Mohawk-Hudson Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Eastern New York Chapter of the Association for Bridge Construction and Design.
  • New York State Department of Transportation.
  • Advanced Manufacturing Techniques, Inc.
  • Student volunteers from Hudson Valley Community College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

This competition is also possible thanks to the participation of our region’s schools and the interest and encouragement provided by the teachers at these schools.