March 23, 2012 by Darren
Architecture, Design, Education, Engineering
Can we train the next generation of civil engineers with pasta noodles?
The thing I love most about the classroom construction projects of Richard Williams (many of you may know him by his blogging nickname, “Corporal Willy”) is how he gives credit to the pasta brand.
Look closely at the snapshot of his bridge above and you can see it was meticulously built with beams made from Barilla Fettucine.
Williams, a retired U.S. Marine and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) electrician, is a dedicated volunteer in the Las Vegas public schools – a system that has been devastated by a series of massive budget cuts.
“Building bridges is a great science and engineering lesson because it gets kids to do something with their hands,” says Williams, also a part-time CAD instructor at the College of Southern Nevada. “But the (bridge kits) cost a lot of money and we saw a lot of teachers dipping into their own pockets to pay for materials. Our challenge was to find less expensive materials than balsa wood.”
Enter the Fettucine and some Elmer’s Wood Glue.
For a while, the retiree’s prototype pasta bridge was displayed at the campus museum of the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). His creations are built for strength – and are often destroyed in stress tests to prove to students how engineering innovation can make all the difference in the world.
The bridges are even impenetrable (most of the time) to curious doggies. Read More