ORONO – Imagine a bridge made of pasta holding more than 6 tons. That’s what it’s come to at Monmouth Academy’s annual Spaghetti Bridge Contest.

When the competition started in 1997 under the supervision of the academy’s Mathematics Department, the strongest bridge held 360 pounds. At that time the structures were tested by piling on weights until a bridge collapsed.

In subsequent years the students became more proficient and bridges became stronger and stronger. By 2003, it became obvious that stacking weights on the bridges was no longer the way to go. Contact was made with the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Maine in Orono to use more sophisticated testing equipment. That year’s strongest bridge held 5,882 pounds.

This year, preliminary judging and testing was held May 21 with 56 students and 36 bridges qualifying for the Orono trip, accompanied by Jeff Gosselin, Sue Small and Dave Heckman of the academy Math Department.

According to Gosselin, specifications are strict and engineering skills are necessary to put together a maximum of one pound of pasta. Shane Donahue put together a bridge that withstood 12,250 pounds of pressure. He was followed by two-man teams of Chris Eldridge and Alex Gauthier at 7,321 pounds and Zach Mayo-Ben Seefeldt 4,346 pounds.

In separate competition, Austin Lakota/Laura Elliot’s entry was judged Best Looking, followed by the Mayo/Seefeldt and one built by Jerod Bechard and Andrew Bourret.

First-year team winners included Megan Buckley/Steph Perkins, 9,165 lbs.; Rick Pelletier/Patrick Trenholm, 7,852; and Joe Gabri/Scott Turcotte, 6,542.

First-year Best Looking bridges were built by Sam Fairchild, Megan Buckley/Steph Perkins and Joel Emery.

Department head Dana Humphrey and test professor Will Manion invited the academy back to Orono next year. The students had a tour of the Engineering Department, had lunch and were awarded hard hats. Bangor station WABI was invited and the students were on TV that night.

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