Corps celebrates EWeek with “Building Bridges Towards our Future” competition at local Walla Walla and College Place area schools.

Photos and Story by Brigida I. Sanchez

“As Humans we are naturally curious people. We love to chew on questions about how and why. I think math, science, technology and engineering answer those questions, or at least the basis of those questions,” said Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District as he addressed students at Walla Walla Valley Academy (WWVA) in College Place, Washington.

The commander and his team of engineers volunteered to engage students in Walla Walla and College Place on the subject of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) during Engineer Week (EWeek) by sponsoring a bridge building competition “Building Bridges Towards our Future.”

Students spent weeks planning, building, and modifying their structures for the engineering and design competition.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Engineer Evan Heisman tests toothpick and popsicle stick bridges at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School as students wait their turn. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Engineer Evan Heisman tests toothpick and popsicle stick bridges at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School as students wait their turn. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. (Photo by Brigida Sanchez, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

“Our biggest challenge was getting the right measurements when we built our first bridge so we had to build it again” said Harmony Powers a WWVA Student.

The Corps’ Walla Walla District helped local schools test bridges that students engineered in teams of three. Students collaborated constructing beam, suspension, truss and girder bridges with only popsicle sticks, tooth picks, dental floss, water soluble glue and some good old ingenuity.

“Students work better in teams because teams bring creativity, they bring challenges, and observations. So they spark a different work dynamic,” said Corps Program Manager and Civil Engineer Simeon Francis.

The competition and STEM Conference encourages students to problem-solve, be creative and rely on each other as a team to build their bridges objectively and conceptually.

To win, the students need to build a lightweight and efficient bridge that can resist a load.

“They have to understand how their bridges are going to be loaded. How their bridge will respond or resist the load. And then the bridge that can take the most loading at the lowest weight and gains a high efficiency wins the competition” said Francis.

Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students watch as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, test their toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students watch as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, test their toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

The most efficient bridge constructed at WWVA was a Truss bridge built by students Jia Willard, Brandin Grabner, and Tabitha Jenkins, who took home a certificate. EWeek for the Corps and its volunteers is not only a winning experience, but it is an opportunity for the Corps to gain access to schools and promote activities that will help to stimulate young minds through STEM.

The Corps of Engineers’ mission is dedicated to serving the Nation. EWeek is one of many opportunities that the Corps takes to give back to the community and help inspire future engineers.

For more information about National Engineers Week, go online to www.discovere.org. To learn more about the Corps of Engineers and its mission in the Walla Walla District, go to www.nww.usace.army.mil.

- DeSales High School students watch as Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, , and Corps Engineer Hillary Smith, test the students’ toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at DeSales High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

DeSales High School students watch as Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, , and Corps Engineer Hillary Smith, test the students’ toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at DeSales High School, Walla Walla, Washington.(Photo by Brigida Sanchez, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

170217-A-AZ289-120- Capt. Brent Vance, this years’ STEM coordinator for the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students about the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week Competition about the importance of STEM and the engineering career field. The Walla Walla District sponsored the engineering and design competition, and Corps employees

Capt. Brent Vance, this years’ STEM coordinator for the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students about the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week Competition about the importance of STEM and the engineering career field. The Walla Walla District sponsored the engineering and design competition, and Corps employees. (Photo by Brigida Sanchez,U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students watch as Corps Civil Engineer Evan Heisman test the students’ toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Walla Walla Valley Academy High School students watch as Corps Civil Engineer Evan Heisman test the students’ toothpick and popsicle stick bridges. The Walla Walla District sponsored the engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. (Photo by Brigida Sanchez, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Engineer Evan Heisman tests toothpick and popsicle stick bridges at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School as students wait their turn. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Engineer Evan Heisman tests toothpick and popsicle stick bridges at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School as students wait their turn. The Walla Walla District sponsored the “Building Bridges Towards our Future” Engineer Week engineering and design competition, and Corps employees volunteered at Walla Walla Valley Academy High School, Walla Walla, Washington. (Photo by Brigida Sanchez, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

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