CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – Students in West Virginia middle schools and high schools can now enter to enter the 2023 WV Bridge Design and Build Contest, hosted by West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT).

For more than 20 years, the WVDOT has hosted the WV Bridge Design and Build Contest. Students have until March 1 to enter, and registration is entirely free and available on the website wvbridgedesignandbuildcontest.com.  

“We have schools that have come back to the competition for 20 years and counting. With WVDOT, we have scholarships, Co-Op programs, tuition reimbursement, and training opportunities; backing up our dedication to being the best educated WVDOT in the country.  The competition helps us reach students with the message that there are great careers available in their home state.” 

Jennifer Dooley, of WVDOT’s Public Relations Division

The competition focuses on engineering, using real world design principles in the software with which students design their bridges, however Dooley stresses that the competition is not just for students who already feel they would be good at engineering.

“All students are encouraged to give it a try. This contest can reach any school, any student, and it’s a level playing field.   It’s exciting to see a seventh grader give it a try and find out they can do it.  Students need to know that it’s okay to be a beginner and start where they are.  This contest teaches them about engineering without expecting them to already know.” 

Jennifer Dooley, of WVDOT’s Public Relations Division

Secretary of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, P.E. served as a classroom volunteer in the early years of the competition and developed a process for coaching West Virginia’s students that blends hard work with creativity. In 2016, Wriston created a tutorial for students outlining a step by step process for using the software. That tutorial, which starts at the beginning and moves logically through steps, is available here.

“We’re really looking forward to getting back to an in-person final competition this year. At the final event, we honor the students, teachers, parents, younger sisters and brothers — all these people who work together to help students be successful. We’re looking forward to working with the colleges again this year and helping young West Virginians bridge that gap from school into rewarding careers with West Virginia Department of Transportation.”

West Virginia State Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E.

The contest is designed to encourage STEM education and inspire future engineers. Every student who makes it to the finals receives $100.

  • First place winners take home $500,
  • Second place winners receive $400
  • Third place winners get $300.

Every student who participates also gets a free BridgeWalk tour for themselves and their families.

The Qualifying Round of the contest will end on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at 11:59 pm EST. Competing in the contest to qualify for the final competition is open to middle school and high school students, but siblings, families and teachers are encouraged to submit designs as well in Open Competition just for fun. Participation in the contest is entirely free, with software available for download on the website wvbridgedesignandbuildcontest.com

Students in grades 6-12 attending a West Virginia public, private, or home school may enter individually or in teams of two. For teams of two, the team captain should be the only one to register. You must include the contact information for you, your parents, and your teacher.

“Teachers can email us at any time until February 17 to request volunteer assistance. It helps students build the foundation for what they want to do in the future.” 

Dustin Feazell, Transportation Engineering Technologist, WVDOT Information Technology Division

Finalists will be notified by Friday, March 3, 2023, with an invitation and details of the Finals event. The Top 25 individuals/teams with the lowest cost designs will be invited to participate in the Finals, hosted this year at the WVU Institute of Technology Campus in Beckley. Finalist Notification Deadline is Friday, March 10, 2023. The Finals event is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, 2023. All finalists will be awarded cash prizes between $100 and $400 plus. There is also a prize for the Most Aesthetic Bridge.

Last year, more than 80 schools and over 200 individual teams participated.

Partners this year include the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, and Bridgewalk.

Students who are interested in participating have until Wednesday, March 1, 2023, to register, download their bridge design software and submit their bridge design.

To register, download bridge design software, or find out more about the contest, visit https://wvbridgedesignandbuildcontest.com.