Spaghetti Bridge

Rules - Long Version | Rules - Mini Version |

What is engineering? The word itself comes from the Latin ingenerare, to create. According to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, engineering is "the application of mathematical and scientific principles to practical ends, as in the design construction, and operation of economical and efficient structures, equipment, and systems." This definition is not wrong, but it doesn't begin to describe the many components of engineering.

So what, really, is engineering? It's art and communication, politics and finance, modeling and simulation, invention, approximation, measurement and estimation, and more. It's a way to think about problems. This course (500.101) introduces the student to the engineering way of thinking. A unique element is its Virtual Laboratory - a set of simulated laboratory experiments that you can perform over the WWW.

What else does the course offer? Hands-on engineering projects: the design, construction, and testing of spaghetti or aluminum bridges or domes. Requiring the knowledge of the material properties of spaghetti or aluminum foil, the physics of trusses, and the characteristics of epoxy, these projects provide students with the opportunity to put their engineering knowledge to practice.

Spaghetti Bridge Competition Rules - Long Version

Each group is to build a bridge made from spaghetti and glue/epoxy. The object is to construct a bridge that will carry the heaviest load while still meeting specifications. Bridges will be loaded until they fail.


1. The bridge is to be built from spaghetti (cylindrical forms of pasta) and glue, epoxy or resin.

2. The bridge shall be free-standing and must span two level surfaces which are one meter apart.

3. The support for the bridge shall be from the top of the level surfaces. The edges of the level surfaces cannot be used in any way for support.

4. The bridge must include a decking of spaghetti to provide a suitable road surface at least 5cm wide across the full span of the bridge. Three conditions must be met:

a) gaps in the bridge deck are not to exceed 2 mm,
b) a block of wood (5 cm x 5cm x 10 cm) representing a car must be able to move along the length of the decking unobstructed from end to end,

c) the deck of the bridge must not be more than 5 cm above or below the ends of the bridge at any point along its length.

5. You must incorporate a "loading platform" consisting of a U-bolt secured to a piece of plywood (0.7 cm x 5 cm x 10 cm). This platform is to be attached at the center of the bridge such that the bottom of the U-bolt is no more than 5 cm from the top of the bridge decking. All loads will be suspended from this U-bolt, and there must be a clear space directly below it to allow loads to be attached. Loads will be attached using an S-hook, and, if necessary, a 10 mm diameter metal rod extension. If during loading, the bridge twists in such a way as to cause the bridge to touch the rod at any point other than the U-bolt, thus lending additional support, the bridge will be disqualified.

6. The maximum vertical depth of the bridge, from the highest point in its structure to the lowest cannot exceed 50 cm.

7. The maximum weight of the bridge including the loading platform must not exceed 0.75 kilograms.

Note: These rules are essentially the same as those developed for contests at Okanagan University College. For a bridge meeting these restrictions, Okanagan claims a world record of 176 kg.