News: Airmen build bridges, relationships
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- More than 50 civil engineer airmen participated in a model-sized bridge building competition at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during National Engineer Week, Feb. 22, 2014.
National Engineer week, which ran from Feb. 16 - 22 this year, was started in 1951 to highlight the accomplishments of historical engineer features, people and how engineers have made a great impact on today's society.
Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron, and the 557th Expeditionary Rapid Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer Squadron who construct buildings, runways, bridges and roads throughout the Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, showcased their skills of creating new ideas and solving problems.
The Airmen who participated were asked to build a bridge which spans over a 10 inch gap with only using duct tape and plastic utensils.
"The rules were pretty simple and I was impressed by many of the bridges these airmen were able to put together," said 2nd Lt. Jamar Adams, who is assigned to the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron and is deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. "The Airmen took the competition very seriously and it showed on the bridges they were able to produce. Our job involves problem solving and competitions like this help foster a mind of creativity and thinking outside of the box."
According to Adams, a Columbia, S.C. native, the competition was held to strengthen the relationship of civil engineer Airmen who may work together on a project even though they may be from different units.
"The competition was a way to get all of our engineers on base together and involved, which will help them build stronger relationships when they have to work together on a real project," Adams said. "It was also used to help boost morale. Even though there was no prize given to the victors, bragging rights were awarded."
The bridges were ranked based on these categories: strongest, best looking design, simplest design, tallest and longest. The strength of the bridge was tested by adding weight to the center point until the bridge failed. The weight the bridge was able to support was divided by the weight of the bridge.
Staff Sgt. Lars Kiel, who is assigned to the 577th EPBS and is deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, built the strongest bridge during the competition and said, "I underestimated the strength of the bridge I built. The bridge held 97 pounds and only weighed .36 pounds, which to me is pretty impressive. I work as an engineer assistant and I design bridges, but it was a great time to actually build one and see how strong it is, even if it was only on a small scale."
Though Kiel's bridge was deemed the strongest based on ratio, two other bridges maxed out during the weight adding portion as well.
"We simply ran out of weight and were unable to determine the strength ratio of two of the bridges which were built," Adams said. "The designs were impressive. We kept adding weight to the bridges and they would not budge. It just goes to show the innovation of these Airmen engineers."
Strength - Staff Sgt. Lars Kiel from the 577th EPBS
Best looking design - Capt. Todd Bichsel 577th EPBS
Simplest design - Staff Sgt. Jeffery Sanderson 577th EPBS
Tallest - Staff Sgt. John Gaylord 379th ECES
Longest - Staff Sgt. Joshua Lail 379th ECES Explosive Ordnance Disposal