LAKEMORE Students in Springfield High School Tech Education teacher Peter Geiss’ class have a history of competing and often winning the annual Miniature Bridge Building Competition.

That continued this year as in February, as the teams from Springfield finished first and third in the 20th competition, sponsored by the Summit County Engineer’s Office, and saw 29 teams from 12 schools compete.

The teams were challenged with the task of designing and building a bridge, using a limited amount of materials. The bridges are judged for aesthetics, compliance to specifications and load carrying capacity.

Geiss said that the students plan and design their bridges prior to the competition and send their designs to the Summit County Engineer’s Office for approval. Upon approval, students then work on building a prototype so they can focus on construction methods, teamwork, communication and evaluation.

During the competition, teams are given three hours to complete the bridge construction. Then, the teams have their bridge evaluated and load tested until they fail. The failure load is then used to calculate an efficiency score by dividing the failure load by the weight of the bridge.

This year Springfield High School entered three teams.

Team One consisted of seniors Larry Ritterbeck and Tyler Hoxworth and junior Parker Schultz.

Team Two consisted of seniors Colin Leporis, Luke Reynolds and Carson Welch.

Team Three consisted of senior Austin Welch and sophomores Abbigail Czerwieniec and Alicia Franco-Riddenour.

“I’m proud to announce that this year’s teams finished in 1st and 3rd place,” said Geiss.

The first-place bridge, built by Ritterbeck, Hoxworth and Schultz, weighed 30.5 grams and held 65.6 pounds for an efficiency score of 1,025.

The third-place bridge, built by Welch, Czerwieniec and Franco-Riddenour weighed 42.5 grams and held 75.6 pounds for an efficiency score of 856.

Their bridge also finished in second place for aesthetics.

“This was my first year of Bridge Building, and I enjoyed every part of it,” Hoxworth said. “I’m so happy that we did well at the competition.”

Students were rewarded with cash prizes, a trophy for the school and eligibility for up to $4,250 in scholarships. Ritterbeck, Hoxworth and Schultz will have their names engraved on the competition’s traveling trophy alongside all the previous year’s winners.

“It is a joy to see the creativity and teamwork of these young men and women every year,” Geiss said.

The bridge building club consists of about 12 members. They were divided into teams of two or three students. Geiss said it is always a exciting to see the creativity, problem solving and collaboration that the team members put into their projects.

Geiss challenges the returning members to create new designs each year, and sometimes those designs have more than 400 support pieces. After designing, the teams take on the challenge of figuring out how to accurately create the many precise pieces in less than three hours.

“Those teams competed in our own mini competition where teams designed and built their own bridges,” Geiss said. “The winners of our mini competition then had the chance to go to the Summit County Engineer’s Miniature Bridge Building Competition.”

One of the things that Geiss said he enjoys about this club and competition is that it has almost become its own little family. He said that students that have graduated will contact him or the students on this year’s team to ask how things are going.

"This was my first year with the Bridge Building Club, and I will definitely do this again next year,“ said Schultz. ”Although I think the key to our success was team captain Larry Ritterbeck, I look forward to stepping up next year.

“Our numbers have increased to the point where we have had four or five teams competing for those three spots at the Summit County Engineer’s competition, and that competition has bred success for us.”

Also, the students from the current year are trying to beat the teams from the past

“It’s a fun dynamic to see how they truly care about each other, but they still want to compete against each other as well,” Geiss said.

Over the years, the Springfield students have been on a very good run.

“Bridge Building Club teaches you that it’s ok to fail,” said Welsch. “You can learn from what goes wrong and work to find a better solution next time.”

This was the fourth victory for Springfield since Geiss has been working with them the last 10 years. They have had 11 teams finish in the top three of the competition.

“Trying something new and finding out if it’ll work is one of my favorite things, and Bridge Building Club let me do that,” Pinkerton said.