Andrew Zhang Wins BNL Bridge Building Contest


Jessica Guo

This year, juniors in Ward Melville had the opportunity to participate in the Brookhaven National Laboratory Bridge Contest, yielding spectacular results. As part of the InSTAR program, students designed and constructed bridges according to BNL’s guidelines and stipulations, which were then tested using a hydraulic pressure plate. The results were measured, with students improving upon their work and tweaking their final designs. Ultimately, the bridges were driven to BNL, where they competed against bridges constructed by other talented high school students from Nassau and Suffolk County.

Andrew Zhang came out on top, and was named the winner of this year’s contest. Additionally, he qualified to have his design compete at the 2017 International Bridge Contest in Dallas, Texas. His bridge was able to withstand around 1,049 times its own mass, an impressive feat. As Andrew remarked, “I was completely surprised and overwhelmed with joy when I found I did well in the competition.  I didn’t believe it at first since I really haven’t considered myself proficient at building anything, let alone a bridge.”

For Andrew, the process of constructing the bridge required 4-5 hours. On the design, he commented, “I thought of some bridges I remembered seeing at SciO competitions and tried to emulate while adjusting them to the specifications provided by BNL.  I also modified my design after I tested my bridge in class.” When asked about any advice he had for future students, Andrew reflected, “My advice for future students would be to have fun while building bridges…It was a nice way to relieve stress during/from the school day.  Also, have some confidence in what you build, you may never know what will happen.”

Other students performed excellently, including Ashley Fuchs, who placed fourth. Additionally, Leon Zhao had the highest efficiency of all the competitors, but was disqualified. Overall, many Ward Melville students did very well.