By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Students from Tupelo Middle School and Tupelo High School dominated the Mississippi bridge-building competition this week in Jackson.
Tupelo teams captured six of the nine places awarded in the three divisions – seventh and eighth grade, ninth and 10th grade and 11th and 12th grade. A Tupelo team took first place in each division.
“I’m extremely proud of all of the students,” said Tupelo Middle School teacher Julia Smith, who sponsored the teams along with Connie Gusmus and Holly Bailey. “All of the students that participated did an outstanding job. Their presentations were impeccable.”
Nineteen teams competed in the state competition, which was held for the first time by the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Transportation and Civil Engineering program. The contest was modeled after the annual national competition.
To participate, teams had to build bridges from sticks and submit extensive 30-page portfolios explaining the process. They were judged on their portfolio, design and presentation and on their bridge’s strength-to-weight ratio.
Tupelo entered nine teams in the competition, and Mantachie Schools entered one.
In the seventh- and eighth-grade division, the winning team was TMS Bridge Builders (Abigail Grant, Ryan Malone and Saajan Patel), and second place was The Midas Builders (Noah Hunt, Ryan Spivey and Justin Zosel).
The winning ninth- and 10th-grade team was Diamond Pi (Kimya Jamasbi, Ricardo Ungo and Katerina Kushla), The Creators (Xen Gaerlan, Nolan Vora and Kai Brieck) was second, and Bridge Engineers of Tupelo (James Grant, Josephine Orrick and Luke Tucker) was third.
Tupelo Bruggenbouwers (Caitlin Bailey, Jimmy Stone and Penelope Dao) won the 11th- and 12th-grade division.
In a separate process, Tupelo learned it will have four teams competing in the national bridge-building championships, which will be held May 5 in Providence, R.I. Those are TMS Bridge Builders, Diamond Pi, Bridge Engineers of Tupelo and Tupelo Bruggenbouwers.
Booneville Middle School also has a team that qualified for nationals.