History of the Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest
Previously named the West Point Bridge Design Contest, this national engineering competition was originally developed as a one-time event to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002. Immediately after the successful implementation of this project, overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, parents, and teachers convinced the organizers that the contest should be continued as an annual event.
The West Point Bridge Designer (WPBD) software was written by a West Point civil engineering professor, Colonel Stephen Ressler; while the contest’s on-line judging and database management system was developed by Steve’s brother, Colonel Gene Ressler, a professor of computer science. More recently, Gene rewrote the WPBD software in the Java programming language, so that it could be run on both Windows and Macintosh computers. This critically important update ensured the long-term viability of both the WPBD software and the contest.
In 2013, Engineering Encounters was founded as a non-profit organization with the primary mission of ensuring the long-term continuity of the Bridge Design Contest beyond the Ressler brothers’ retirement from West Point. The Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest continues to receive generous funding from both the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Army Educational Outreach Program. Stephen Ressler continues to support the contest through Engineering Encounters.