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Oct 25, 2019

The 11th Annual Macaroni Structure Competition

It was all about macaroni this morning for a group of enterprising students from the University of Belize. But, the macaroni was not for consumption instead it was used to build model bridges by the engineering students. Today, their work was tested for weight and durability. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

For the past two days, students from the engineering programme at the University of Belize have been participating in the annual macaroni structure competition. It began on Thursday with groups of four, applying techniques learned throughout the programme, to construct bridges out of macaroni. Using the physics of tensions and their ingenuity, the students’ project, which they had eight hours to construct, were put to the test with weights.

 

Lloyd Carrillo

Lloyd Carrillo, Associate Lecturer, Engineering Department, University of Belize

“It started in 2008 and saw the need for the students to do a hands-on thing with structures. This is talking about thrushes, checking what is tension and compression and those things like that that are done in class. So we gave them an opportunity to do a model; this is the eleventh year that we are doing now.”

 

Duane Moody

“So it is creating bridges with macaroni?”

 

Lloyd Carrillo

“That is correct. Most people think macaroni is only used for fettuccine or put in the pot and you eat it. But here at engineering department we use it for structures. We basically use macaroni, spaghetti, we use the glue sticks to put it together. We have straws, we have paleta sticks and a couple bottles that were provided as well to them and this is the end product right now.”

 

The students were tasked to design bridges at a particular height and width, among other capabilities with measures. When completed, the bridges should also carry a specific range in weight and durability.

 

Lloyd Carrillo

“That’s to check the loading which the bridges can take. This is just a small scale. You can compare it to a large scale anywhere in the world; in Belize, anywhere you want to put it. These bridges can be designed in that purpose. Due to the loading and the calculations, they will need to calculate it properly to see where the joints might fail or could fail and then they go ahead from there. The material is just macaroni and spaghetti right now, but then that can be compared with the steel structure.”

 

There were quite a number of female engineering students who participated in the competition, which reflects that this field of work is no longer considered a job only for the man.

 

Novalee Ramos

Novalee Ramos, Student, Associate Programme in Building and Civil Aviation, U.B.

“The reason I came into engineering is because I like to ask questions: why, how and so forth. And being an engineer will allow me to do that. I will be able to answer my own questions. I see a lot of stuff in Belize around our country. You could be driving from your house to the Chinese store and you see a lot of places that we can improve. I like change and I want to be a part of that change.”

 

The budding students say that the programme is instructive because they get to see the details in the functionality of things.

 

Amiri Hoare

Amiri Hoare, Student, Engineering Programme, U.B.

“We had a test run before this; that failed at fifteen kilos. We learnt that there were different sections that we need to reinforce, which would be the beams and the studs. So we reinforced those and our new bridge; we added lots more glue and reinforcement to that bridge so that it could withstand the thirty-one point nine kilos it did today.”

 

Novalee Ramos

“My first semester in the programme I saw them mentioning that and I was like macaroni bridges, the same reaction. And when I was with my peers, I saw how they calculated thrushes and it actually works. And to say us as engineers we are given tasks every day to make the best out of whatever material we are given. Each construction site, every project is different; it is never the same. Whether it be from the soil, to the roofing difference or the zoning. And to be given such a brittle material and be able to make sure a strong structure out of it is beyond words.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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