Bentley Sponsors Student Bridge Contest ..

Bentley Systems Sponsors Student Bridge Contest at AASHTO Spring Meeting

Bentley Systems Sponsors Bridge
Tied Arch Titans, the 9th and 10th grade winners, are shown here testing the bridge strength to weight ratio. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.

Middle and High School Students Use Bentley Software to Design Bridge Projects and Present to AASHTO Meeting Audience in Person for First Time in Three Years

EXTON, Pa. – June 21, 2023 – Bentley Systems, Incorporated (Nasdaq: BSY), the infrastructure engineering software company, was a title sponsor of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) STEM Solutions Bridge Challenge Finals in Seattle, Washington, on May 16.

Formerly known as the AASHTO TRAC Contest, the AASHTO Bridge Challenge is a national competition designed to promote an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through hands-on, real-world applications. It also provides a unique opportunity for students to gain confidence in their speaking skills in front of a large audience, which included departments of transportation, engineering consulting firms, AASHTO government officials, parents, teachers, and students.  Also sponsoring the event were Michael Baker International, TopoDOT, HDR, HNTB, Headlight, and Houseman & Associates.

For the first time in three years since the pandemic, students from around the United States were able to compete in person in the bridge design contest, with the finalists winning the opportunity to join the AASHTO community at the Spring Meeting in Seattle.

Students from 19 states across the U.S., from seventh to 12th grades, designed and built innovative bridges using Bentley applications, including MicroStation and ContextCapture to design the models. Eighteen teams were selected for the finals by a panel of judges, who rated each team’s design and portfolio. During the finals on May 16, the teams gave presentations and then had their bridges tested for strength-to-weight ratio until each bridge failed, in some cases spectacularly, under pressure. The team receiving the most points from the judges was selected as the national winner in their grade categories.

The winning team for the 11th and 12th grades, 906 Bridge Co. from Negaunee High School in Negaunee, Michigan, has participated in the program for several years under the guidance of teacher/advisor Kevin Bell. In addition to designing a deck arch truss bridge with Bentley’s MicroStation, they also flew a drone and used ContextCapture to create a reality model of their bridge. 

Dustin Parkman, Bentley’s Vice President of Transportation, said, “The role of civil engineers is critical to transportation infrastructure. The hands-on experience of the AASHTO STEM Solutions program introduces students to civil engineering concepts and processes, inspiring them to imagine a future career in engineering. I’m proud that AASHTO, Bentley, our co-sponsors, and the DOTs can provide this opportunity for the students to learn such valuable skills and spark an interest in a future career in civil engineering.”

Julia Smith, AASHTO STEM Solutions program manager, said, “AASHTO designed the program for use in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes to introduce students to transportation and civil engineering. America’s transportation industry has a huge demand for well-qualified civil engineers. AASHTO’s goal is to get middle and high school students exposed to and excited about a career in civil engineering. We see the STEM Solutions program as an investment in today’s youth, to ensure that America has the highly skilled workforce it’s going to need for years to come.”

Congratulations to all the students, teachers, sponsors, and departments of transportation who made this year’s competition a success.

To learn more and become involved with the program, visit

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