VIU Engineering Students Test Skills To Bridge Tram Crossing

First year VIU engineering students Jeff Schidlowsky (left), Jillian Newell, Corey Wakita, and Kristian Jessen did a great job on their model bridge in last year’s competition. A new group of students will be put to the challenge April 8.

April 4, 2016 - 11:15am

Public invited to vote for best bridge designed by VIU engineering students

First year engineering students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) are building model bridges with popsicle sticks to test their design skills – and they want members of the public to help choose a winner.

In a friendly competition sponsored by Herold Engineering Inc. and HeliJet International and supported by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC), Vancouver Island Branch, 10 teams in Dr. Brian Dick’s Engineering Design II class have been creating model bridges for a proposed tram crossing in Alphen, Netherlands. 

Their creative bridge designs will be on display Friday, April 8 in the upper cafeteria (Building 300) at VIU’s Nanaimo campus from 9 am to 2 pm. The public is invited to stop by and celebrate the achievements of these engineering students and provide feedback on how well they met their design objectives.  

“The goal is to build a structure that autonomously detects boat traffic, and opens the bridge deck to allow passage,” says Dick, Chair of VIU’s Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy. “The system must also control tram, vehicle, pedestrian, and bike traffic travelling over the bridge and close the bridge deck after the boat has passed.”

A number of constraints were presented to students as part of their design, one of which is its aesthetic appeal.

Local engineers, the public, staff, students and faculty at VIU are being asked to rank each of the bridge structures in terms of what bridge design best displays innovation and practicality while considering user safety. They will also be asked which bridge design overall best represents a suitable bridge for the Alphen city community.

Students will receive marks based on this feedback. Dick’s first-year course is part of the Fundamentals of Engineering certificate.

“We’ve been running the program at VIU for a number of years and we typically have around 40 students each term,” says Dick.  

Successful completion of this certificate qualifies students for admission into the second year engineering program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Victoria (UVic) or Simon Fraser University (SFU).  For more details, go to

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MEDIA CONTACT:  Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 E: T: @viunews


Tags: Student Success

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