A group of engineering students at Howard Payne University recently constructed a scale model of Regency Bridge. The model was one of several constructed for Engineering Design Project, an upper-level capstone course for engineering majors. The class, taken over the course of two semesters, requires students to research and propose a major engineering project and then construct and test the proposed project.
“Our proposal was to investigate and analyze different bridges, build replicas and test them to discover which bridge was the strongest,” said senior Justin Hughes of Llano.
The students’ suspension bridge is a model of Regency Bridge, which spans the borders of Mills and San Saba counties and is located on the Colorado River. According to the city of San Saba’s website, Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge in Texas still used by automobiles.
“We chose this as our project because bridges are an integral part of society,” said senior Dairon Houston of Brownwood. “We wanted to learn the engineering that goes into constructing them and how different types of bridges do different things.”
Since the beginning of the fall semester, the group has researched various bridges and worked on building models. The building of the suspension bridge model took approximately two weeks.
Senior Gabriel Means of Palestine expressed that their research led them to learn information about bridges beyond the realm of engineering.
“We learned how bridge design has changed and improved over history, as well as how a bridge structure distributes weight and what variables are considered when designing a bridge,” Means said.
The class is overseen by Dr. Pam Bryant, dean of the School of Science and Mathematics, director of the forensic science program and professor of chemistry.
“The students used information learned in their previous Statics, Dynamics and Mechanics of Materials courses to build models of various bridges in Brown and Mills counties,” she said. “They ran experiments on the models to determine the static and dynamic loads associated with different parts of each bridge and compared their findings. It was a great experience for the students.”
The group will conduct the next phase of the project in the spring.
“We plan to use the information gathered this semester to build a working, full-sized bridge next semester,” said Hughes.