First-year Vancouver Island University engineering students Josh Fernandes, left, and Justin Bishop talk with fellow students while fixing a technical glitch in their 1:100th scale model of the Long Binh Bridge, a drawbridge in Vietnam. Thirty-six engineering students on 10 teams displayed the results of 13 weeks of drawbridge design and construction work at the annual Engineering Design Competition, hosted at VIU’s Nanaimo campus Friday. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

VIU engineering students bridge technical challenges

First-year engineering students display drawbridge models at annual design competition in Nanaimo.

Vancouver Island University’s first-year engineering students displayed their entries in this year’s Engineering Design Competition, hosted at the university’s cafeteria Friday, April 13.

Thirty-six students, on 10 design teams, spent 13 weeks perfecting their drawbridge designs, which presented numerous mechanical and electrical engineering challenges the students had to overcome.

Many of the designs were working 1/100th scale model adaptations of actual bridges in Canada, Scotland, Vietnam and elsewhere.

Brian Dick, chairman and engineering professor and advisor for VIU’s engineering, physics and astronomy department, said students learn numerous skills beyond strictly technical ones while developing their designs.

“They come up with a design and they write a proposal, but then that proposal gets passed on to a building team to actually build it,” Dick said. “So the building teams, as they progress, sometimes have issues with being able to implement the design as the design team envisioned it, so they have to go back to the design team to try and … see if they can get a design working that is to both of their benefits, so the communication aspect, the persuasion aspect, we’d say, the soft skill aspect of teamwork is much more critical.”

The annual competition is sponsored by Herold Engineering, of Nanaimo, Helijet and Engineers and Geoscientists B.C.

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