Three of BE Design’s bold engineers, Tai Xiang, James and Chun-Hei, entered the University of Sheffield’s annual Spaghetti Bridge Challenge with two bridges.

After coming to grips with the design brief and rules, the experimentation started, with a variety of joint types of spaghetti and hot glue investigated. This resulted in Bridge No’1 – PapaBridge, named in honour of the pizza restaurant that kept them fuelled.

They soon realised that craftsmanship is as important as the structural analysis, and revised their design and technique accordingly. Tai Xiang worked his magic using Ansys (Structural optimisation software) and created an improved structural solution. They also tested different spaghetti from across Italy and discovered that by using a combination of spaghetti and bucatini (hollow spaghetti) improvements in strength could be achieved without compromising ductility.

All fired up they got straight to work and created bridge No’2 – ‘PapapaBridge’. Both impressive structures.

The team carefully took both PapaBridge and PapapaBridge to the University of Sheffield for judging. Of the 7 entries, 2 teams came from the University, the remaining 5 from external companies. All the structures were very different and the teams enjoyed socialising and discussing their structures.

The bridges were scored on their architectural merit, mass and maximum loadings before failure.  The honour of testing the loadings went to the team’s leader, Tai Xiang, who carefully applied weights one by one, time slowed and the entire room became silent in anticipation. A gradual deflection started mid span and the team did the most logical thing – slowly stepping backwards while spiritually supporting Tai Xiang. However, one of the bridge’s supports collapsed and it broke into pieces, a painless and swift end. But the team was happy with bridges’ performance. Being placed 3rd behind the 2 student teams.

Not to be disheartened, our brave and intrepid engineers celebrated with a team meal (not pasta!) and had a sing along road trip back to Newark.

Well done we are all proud of your achievements …