Twelve talented and gifted students from local public and private schools were selected to participate with The Trinity Trust, in partnership with SMU's Talented and Gifted Program and Summer Youth Program, to become engineers for a day and to construct a replica of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with cables and roads. On the morning of the Engineering Workshop, students and their parents were given an exclusive hard-hat tour of the construction site of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Rebecca Rasor of the City of Dallas, and Jim McTaggart of VSL (in charge of stringing the cables) shared with them what its like to build the first Santiago Calatrava-designed vehicular cable stayed bridge in the U.S.
During the ensuing workshop, students built a study-model of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, using a STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) framework. Instructor David Abbondanzio of The Study Center, Inc., who teaches in the Plano-based SMU Summer Youth Program, led the class in building a study-model 1/66 in scale. During the construction process, the students learned how the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge works by building the roads, the signature arch piece, and the 58 cables. The completed model is 20 feet long and more than 6 feet high. The model is currently a part of the Meadows Museum exhibition "Calatrava and SMU: A Decade in Motion."
The events of the workshop were documented by award-winning Producer Judy Kelly, whose video feature will be a learning/teaching tool available for area schools as the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opens in March 2012.
The student constructors joined the bridge builders on March 3 for the Parade of Builders at the celebration marking the bridge's opening. Led by bridge architect, Santiago Calatrava, the students joined the procession of hundreds of workers, engineers and community leaders who played a part in the bridge's construction.
Through the generosity of the SMU Talented and Gifted program, a scholarship to the SMU TAG program for summer 2011 was awarded to one participant, Simon Cohen, a student at Dallas ISDs William B. Travis Vanguard and Academy for the Academically Talented and Gifted.
Photograph by Corinne Robinson