Natomas High Student Engineering Team

Natomas High Student Engineering Team

Wins $1,500 Top Prize in Bridge Building Contest


Let's cut to the chase: They won -- $1,500!

But we're getting ahead of ourselves ..

The challenge for Natomas High Nighthawk engineering students Eric Zizumbo, Carlos Rocha and Jesus Venegas was to build a balsa wood bridge that is arched and weighs little but carries a lot of weight to qualify for the 2017 California Bridge Building Competition.

Along the way, the Nighthawk team had to use computer software to design their bridge, submit scaled design drawings and data tables, and explain scientific principles behind their design, challenges encountered, solutions reached, and lessons learned. Recently, the three-student Natomas High team was selected as one of three finalists to make a verbal presentation and have their entry judged and tested Jan. 28 before a panel of industry professionals.

Drumroll, please...

They aced it! Zizumbo, Rocha and Venegas finished first, taking home $500 apiece in the competition by the PREP Foundation, a non-profit group promoting science, technology, engineering and math.

Kim Knestrick, Natomas High engineering teacher, said lessons learned by the three 11th-graders in this bridge building competition and in Nighthawk engineering classes range from problem solving to how trusses are made and how structures are affected by compression forces and tension forces. All will serve Zizumbo, Rocha and Venegas well in college, she said.

"This is civil engineering," Knestrick said. "This is how they get started. They'll do the exact same thing at college. ... This was a huge learning experience." Read more here.