Balsa Bridge


2019 Balsawood Bridge Competition

Hosted by the Kansas State University Student Chapter
of the
American Society of Civil Engineers

Problem Statement

Imagine your team as a structural engineering firm in the Mid 19th century. A local businessman, William W. Cat, has come to you with a proposal. For twelve years he has run the only ferry service across the Wildcat River in the north central part of the Kansas Territory. He has made so much money on this endeavor, that he wishes to upgrade his service. Mr. Cat wishes to put in a wooden toll bridge to span the river. 


Mr. Cat has asked your firm, and many others from across the Kansas Territory, to submit a scaled balsa wood model of the proposed bridge. The design of the bridge is completely up to you as an engineer. Foremost concern will be given to safety of his clientele. Therefore, the amount of weight the bridge can hold before it fails is the most important consideration. Also important to Mr. Cat is how the bridge looks. Therefore, the craftsmanship and aesthetics of your firm’s finished model will also be a major consideration. Mr. Cat will award the design to the firm with the best overall model.

If you have questions, send an e-mail to Scott D. Schiff at

General Rules and Specifications

Click here to get the fules and specifications for the competition.

Registration Instructions

Click here to get the registration instructions for the competition.

Location of Competition

The 2019 Balsawood Bridge Competition will be located at Kansas State University on Saturday, April 6 at 9:00 a.m. in Fiedler Hall Room 1107 located at 1701C Platt Street in Manhattan, Kansas.


9:00 am - 10:00 am    -  Team Check-in with Balsawood Bridge

10:00 am - 11:00 am  -  Display Balsawood Bridges and Craftsmanship Judging

11:00 am - 2:00 pm    -  Structural Load Testing of Balsawood Bridges

The deadline for entries into the competition is Friday, March 15, 2019. If you miss this deadline, contact Scott D. Schiff and see if there are still openings for competitors.