• Did You Know?
    • At Saint Vincent, where 16 percent of the faculty are Benedictine priests and brothers, faculty and staff value each student and invest in their growth, both intellectual and spiritual. They provide a welcoming, supportive community and a challenging academic environment to help student make a purposeful start in life.
    • SVC offers up to $20,500 in renewable merit scholarships for high-achieving students.
Home > SVCPulse > News Archive


Public Relations
Posted: Tuesday Feb 14, 2012

February 13, 2012

An engineering competition for area high school students sponsored by Carbone’s Restaurant of Crabtree for the past five years will move to the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion at Saint Vincent College this year since it is now being co-sponsored by the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing at Saint Vincent.

The public is invited to the event at 6 p.m. Monday, March 5 in the Luparello Lecture Hall to watch as the miniature bridges made out of uncooked pasta are loaded with increasing weights until they collapse.

Forty teams from nine Westmoreland County high schools will participate in this year’s contest including Derry Area, Greensburg Central Catholic, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Jeannette, Greater Latrobe, Norwin, Penn Trafford and Yough.

“We are happy to welcome the sixth annual pasta bridge building competition to our new science pavilion where this interesting engineering contest will be able to display the students’ work in the Atrium before moving to the Frank Luparello Lecture Hall for the testing,” commented Dr. John Smetanka, vice president for academic affairs, academic dean and assistant professor of physics at Saint Vincent College. “Saint Vincent provides opportunities for students to pursue engineering studies through a 3/2 cooperative program with Penn State, University of Pittsburgh and Catholic University. We also offer undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences, physics and physics education.”

Participants are provided with two pounds of spaghetti noodles, ten pieces of lasagna noodles and a hot glue gun which they use to build model bridges they designed in their respective school classrooms over a two-month period. Students will carefully transport their constructions to Saint Vincent for display in the Atrium for one hour prior to the competition.

During the competition, weights are added to the bridges until they fail to support. The bridge that sustains the highest amount of weight before collapsing is the winner. The current record is held by a team from Hempfield Area High School which withstood 109 pounds.

In addition to Dr. Smetanka, judges for the competition will be Mr. Matt Burns of Gibson-Thomas Engineering and Laura Volle of Michael Baker Corporation.

The competition is designed to increase high school students’ awareness about the role engineering plays in their lives and the career opportunities in the field and to provide an opportunity for students to collaborate on the design and construction.