Home Outreach

The Department of Civil Engineering is dedicated to lending its services to the community. The overall goal is prepare K-12 students for studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)- related fields and pursue careers in engineering. This is done by engaging students though hands-on activities that generate creativeness and inspire them to become technically savvy.


21st Annual Toothpick Bridge Competition                                                                                   


toothpick bridge competition

This Spring, the High Bay Lab was proud to host the 21st Annual Toothpick Bridge Competition for the second time. Organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), high school students were able to see what they can do with toothpicks and architecture on a small scale. Students from a dozen regional high schools competed for strength and creativity for their bridge structures.

The bridges weighed only about a third of a pound, but some can hold 150 pounds. Students were also judged on their bridge's appearance. Some put so much work into their project that they did not want the bridge tested, since this would destroy their creation.


John Hinzman, a member of ASCE stated, "We believe this is an excellent learning experience for students who possibly want to get into engineering or understand engineering a little better."


Engineering Day

This fall, UMD hosted the annual Bulldog Engineering Day. The goal of Bulldog Engineering Day is to sharpen interest in the minds of high school and middle school students and explore opportunities available in engineering. Students were given opportunities to explore Civil, Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical, and Industrial Engineering who put on various demonstrations relating to their category. The Civil Engineering demonstrations included the flume, structures/earthquakes on the shake table, soil stability, and construction materials testing.


State Fair

UMD Civil Engineering students and staff helped man the UMD booth at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair. This group of volunteers used this opportunity to promote the Swenson Civil Engineering School at UMD by discussing the facility attributes with fair attendees and organizing a stage presentation on engineering principles that culminated in a marshmallow and toothpick structure competition for kids to demonstrate the engineering principles that were discussed. The structures were placed on a shake table to test their strength. All participants had a great time.



Mesabi Range STEM Camp

Mesabi Range STEM Camp
Civil Eng shake table

In Virginia, Minnesota the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College hosted its 4th annual STEM Camp in the summer of 2011. Students from grades 7-10 were able to spend an exciting week exploring natural disasters and experience how STEM professionals forecast weather events, engineer structures to withstand extreme natural disasters, and respond in emergency situations.

UMD Civil Engineering faculty and students were invited to participate in the Camp for a day to teach about earthquakes. The faculty prepared a short presentation on different types of failure that occurs in structures during an earthquake, and ways that engineers are trying to prepare and prevent future destructive damage from occurring. The UMD civil engineering students constructed an earthquake shake table for this event. The shake table was used for a fun hands-on demonstration and contest. With the use of toothpicks and marshmallows Mesabi Camp students were given time to construct a 3 story building that would need to withstand the shake table. In the end, the buildings that the students prepared were well enough constructed that they stood tall after they faced the shake table. Not only for the camp members and students, this was a fun day for the UMD Civil engineering faculty and students as well.

Mind 2 Mind

Children from Mind 2 Mind Constructing Paper Buildings
Mind 2 Mind is an after school program for children ages 6-14. During the summer they offer a summer day camp program that provides 40 kids with adventures they most likely would not have been able to do otherwise.

In the summer of 2011 a wonderful group of students from the Mind 2 Mind program toured the Swenson Civil Engineering Building. The faculty and staff were very excited to give a tour to such a young group of individuals. The students were able to see demonstrations of the lab equipment, such as the flume, the rain table, and watched a concrete cylinder crumble. The faculty and staff set up a contest for the children to see who could build the tallest paper tower. It was fun to see the creative ideas that the teams designed. We hope that one day these children will consider engineering as a field of study.

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Last modified on 03/07/14 12:26 PM
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