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Young Engineers Show Off Skills at CI Spaghetti Bridge Competition

On Friday, July 11, students from Hueneme High School celebrated their completion of four challenging weeks of college-level engineering courses at CSU Channel Islands (CI) by breaking bridges they’ve worked hard to build.

The 40 seniors participating in the Engineering Design Career Pathways Summer Academy (EDCP) learned which team’s bridge built from dry spaghetti holds up longest in test of strength and engineering.  The bridge competition is part of a Culminating Celebration for students, parents, school and community partners, Friday, July 11, at the Broome Library Plaza.  The students also earned awards from government officials and share with their families new skills, confidence and aspirations for engineering learning and careers.

The bridge breaking is one of the many exercises students engage in during the EDCP Summer Academy – a joint effort of Hueneme High School, the Ventura County P-20 Council, and CSU Channel Islands.  The free, grant-funded program exposes underrepresented students to a pre-college engineering program, advances skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and encourages participants to pursue engineering degrees and careers.

“Everything I learn is new and surprising,” said rising Hueneme High School senior Rosio Villalpando, who hopes to study civil engineering in college.  “I’m learning from an actual professor at a university level about physics, the uncertainties of numbers, vectors, and new math skills.  At school, I thought engineering was all done on computers.  Now I have learned that it’s about using your mind and knowledge to build things and solve problems; it’s a new experience.”

The Academy ran from June 16 through July 11.  Participants study a college-level physics curriculum, conduct vector and torque lab experiments, present results, build and test bridges, network with professional engineers, and take field trips to museums, universities and science-related sites.  The activities help them gain critical engineering, problem-solving and communication skills they can apply in future studies and careers.

“The EDCP program, which promotes a college-going culture and interest in engineering and other STEM disciplines, is a successful example of strong regional collaboration among organizations, businesses, career professionals, K-12, colleges and universities, and the Ventura County P-20 Council.  These students are the future of our region and together we are supporting their dreams and building a stronger community for us all,” said CI President Richard R. Rush, who also serves as Chair of the Ventura County P-20 Council.

Students in the summer academy are participants in a rigorous, three-year program at Hueneme High School, designed to stimulate their interest and aptitude in engineering.  They apply for the program as ninth graders.

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