Who doesn’t have a crush on Troitsky? 

The crowd goes wild for the Crusher at the 26th annual Bridge Building Competition

By Russ Cooper

Concordia’s Troitskyites (left to right) Richard Claro, Alex Payne, Murray Pearson and Noah Saber-Freedman. Magnifying glass

Concordia’s Troitskyites (left to right) Richard Claro, Alex Payne, Murray Pearson and Noah Saber-Freedman.

Why spend hours building something knowing full well it will be demolished in fantastic fashion a short while later? Either you’re a bit crazy or it’s the Troitsky Bridge Building Competition.

More than just a fun way to smash things, the competition has built a reputation among engineering students nationwide as a fun, engaging and challenging way to test their mettle.

Now in its 26th year the competition welcomed 155 competitors in 30 teams from 11 universities to Concordia on March 5 to build their model bridges from popsicle sticks and glue. And each participant watched as their creations faced the nefarious Crusher, a machine designed to apply pressure until the structures buckle into a heap of rubble.

An impressive ultimate load carrying capacity of a bridge doesn’t necessarily equal success at the competition. Along with its carrying capacity, every bridge is judged on a series of six attributes including aesthetics and structural efficiency. Teams can also incur penalties, such as failing to meet geometrical restrictions, which ultimately affect their final score.

This year, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of six teams from McMaster University, took first place with a structure carrying a load of 2 733 kg and scoring 92.49 out of 100.

Université de Québec à Chicoutimi team Bridge Jet finished second by supporting 914 kg with a final score of 81.66.

The University of Calgary team Snow Loads rounded out the top three, withstanding 2 119 kg before crumpling under the Crusher, finishing with 81.33 points.

The Troitskyites, Concordia’s only entry made up of Richard Claro, Murray Pearson, Alex Payne and Noah Saber-Freedman, gave it a valiant effort, only to finish in twentyfirst position.

The League’s win upset the reigning champs from Cégep de Chicoutimi, the winner of the past five Troitsky competitions. However, the Cégep didn’t technically have a team in this year’s competition; team members representing the Cégep had graduated to UQÀC’s Bridge Jet team.

This year’s judges were Andy Woo from Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc., Pierre-Albert Jean from Construction Albert Jean Ltd., and Richard Veradi from Group Canvar Inc. Jean and Veradi are ENCS alumni.

This marked the first year the Concordia University Building Engineers Society (CUBES) organized the event.

Fourth-year building engineering student Chris Maloney, who serves on the CUBES executive committee, said that despite a bit of a rocky start, the event was a fantastic experience.

“It was a really good atmosphere. And I have to say the University of Carleton, who sent six teams, brought a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.

Maloney laughs about a Vermont Technical College team, who requested the Star Spangled Banner be played as their bridge faced the crusher. “It was funny because the crushing of the bridge coincided with the music beautifully. Right at the climax of the song, the bridge fell apart,” said Maloney. “Subsequently, the whole crowd got up and sang O Canada. It was great,” he says.

This also marked the first time the competition was held in the EV (the construction stage) and MB Building (the crushing phase). “The exposure was amazing [in the EV]. There was enough space for people to work and let people pass by and observe,” said Maloney.


Concordia University