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Way to Go! Winners of Brookhaven Lab’s Model Bridge Contest

Trevor Okula, a senior at Patchogue-Medford High School,

Trevor Okula, a senior at Patchogue-Medford High School, won first place in Brookhaven National Laboratory's 2016 Model Bridge Contest. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

A Patchogue-Medford High School senior and a Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead senior were the top winners of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s 2016 Model Bridge Contest.

First-place winner Trevor Okula, 17, of Patchogue-Medford, and second-place winner Katherine Hegermiller, of Sacred Heart, were among 170-plus students from 12 local high schools in the competition. The contest challenged them to design, construct and test the most efficient model bridges within precise specifications. The models — intended to be simple versions of real-world bridges — had to accept a load in any position and permit the load to travel across the entire span.

The teens now are eligible to compete at the international level next month in Chicago.

“This is a big deal, because I never win,” Okula said. “It’s definitely made for some conversation at the dinner table.”

The bridges were permitted to have a maximum mass of 25 grams to span a gap of 300 millimeters. They also were required to have a loading plane that allowed a testing fixture, 60 millimeters high and 160 millimeters wide, to pass cleanly under the bridge — similar to how a real bridge is constructed so that barges can safely pass beneath it.

Okula’s bridge was 21.40 grams with an efficiency of 1455.522, while Hegermiller’s bridge weighed 22.98 grams with an efficiency of 1261.097.

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