Coronado’s Misegadis wins first place at state in bridge-building event

       Across the state, hundreds of budding young engineers have cut and glued 3/32-inch-wide balsa wood pieces into various configurations in recent months, each trying to come up with a structure that would be as light as possible yet hold great amounts of weight. Coronado’s bridge-building team holds up their bridge
designs before the competition. From left are Cameron
Misegadis, Lucas Webster, teacher Doug Hugill, Andrew Lesser and Alex Vaske.
Courtesy of Doug Hugill
       And the best of them was… Cameron Misegadis, a junior at Coronado High School. He followed up his recent triumph in the Pikes Peak regional championships with first place Feb. 23 at the 41st annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Contest.
       As a reward, he received a $1,000 scholarship (matching what he'd received at regionals) and a chance to compete at the Chicago Institute of Technology April 26 for the international title.
       “It takes a lot of work,” said Misegadis (pronounced mis-uh-JAY-dis). “You can have a design on paper, but you have to build it well.” He had first tried crafting a balsa bridge as a freshman, during which he “got the bug,” as he put it, and last year as a sophomore he took fourth at state.
       His design at state this year weighed 21.54 grams (there are 454 grams in a pound) and held 280 pounds of weight. His winning model at regionals weighed 16.10 grams and held 153.6 pounds.
       He didn't do any trial-and-error construction beforehand. “Between school and work [he has a job in a ski shop], I didn't have time for that,” he said. He checked out various plans on the Internet, came up with ideas of his own regarding stress and load, and the first bridge he made was for the first competition. “That was my test,” he grinned.
       Others from Coronado also did well at state, with Alex Vaske taking an individual fourth and the school's team placing second.
       Misegadis previously attended Trailblazer Elementary and Holmes Middle School. He's been in the Coronado engineering program since his first year. “It's been a lot of fun,” he said. “I've learned a lot.”
       He wants to be an engineer, which pleases physics teacher/bridge-building coach Doug Hugill. He's concerned that “there will be a major shortage of engineers in the coming years. Even now, he said, “there are 25 lawyers for every engineer.”
       The bridge-building competition is also important to the Professional Engineers of Colorado, the entity that sponsors it, according to Hugill. It helps its members identify bright young engineers. “It's not just putting glue and sticks together,” he said of the event. “It's a very big deal in their eyes.”
       Misegadis is still trying to decide what area of engineering he wants to go into. He said he's leaning toward environmental engineering, with an interest in alternative fuels.

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