OFFICIAL RULES

Updated on April 7, 2014

1. Eligibility

1.1 Anyone may participate in the ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest (EEBDC); however, only eligible contestants may advance beyond the Qualifying Round and compete for prizes.

1.2 To be eligible, a contestant must meet any one of the following criteria:

(1) Students who are currently enrolled in grades 6-12 in United States schools.

(2) Students who are legally home schooled in the United States and are studying at the 6th through 12th grade level.

(3) U.S. citizens in grades 6-12 who are attending school outside of the United States or are home-schooled outside of the United States.

1.3 To be eligible, a contestant must be enrolled in grade 6-12 at the time of registration.

1.4 To be eligible, a contestant cannot have graduated from high school, as of the time of registration. A student who registers while attending high school and then subsequently graduates prior to the end of the contest retains his or her eligibility. In such cases, the student must be prepared to document that he or she was, in fact, enrolled in high school at the time of registration.

1.5 All eligible students will be placed into one of two Contest Categories—Middle School or High School—based solely on their grade level. Eligible students in grades 6-8 will be registered in the Middle School Competition. Eligible students in grades 9-12 will be registered in the High School Competition.

1.6 Any student who has won first or second place at the national level in any previous West Point Bridge Design Contest or ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest is not eligible to compete in successive years.

1.7 Any contestant who is not eligible may register and compete in the Open Competition.

2. Teams

2.1 Students may compete individually or in teams of two members each. Competing in teams of two is strongly encouraged. [NOTE: Throughout these rules, the word team refers to one or two students who have identified themselves as a team during the contest registration process.]

2.2 A team of two students is considered eligible only if both members of the team are eligible to compete in the same Contest Category. (See the eligibility requirements above.) Teams composed of one middle school student and one high school student are not eligible to compete for prizes at the national level.

2.3 To be eligible for the Semi-Final and Final Rounds of the contest, each team member must be available to participate at the times and places specified in Rules 6 and 7 below. If one member of a two-person team is unavailable for either the Semi-Final or Final Round (or if one member loses eligibility for any other reason), then that member is disqualified. The remaining eligible team member may continue in the contest as a one-person team but may not add a new team member to an existing team.

2.4 During the Qualifying Round, each contestant may register as a member of only one team. It is possible to change team membership only under the following circumstances:

(1) If an individual enters the contest alone but subsequently decides to work with a teammate, he or she may form a new two-member team. This change can only be made if the old team is not ranked among the top 50 teams in the High School Category or the top 30 teams in the Middle School Category at the time of the change; or if the new team will be composed of the members of two one-person teams that were both ranked as top teams at the time of the change.

(2) If a two-person team enters the contest but one member subsequently drops out, becomes ineligible, or joins another team, the remaining contestant may register a new team and continue in the contest. If the old two-person team is ranked among the top 50 teams in the High School Category or the top 30 teams in the Middle School Category at the time of the change, then the contestant must contact the Contest Coordinator at http://bridgecontest.org/contact/ and request that the old team be disqualified.

(3) If a student will enter the 6th grade after the start of the Qualifying Round but prior to the end of the Qualifying Round, then that contestant may initially register and compete in the Open Competition, and then register a new team on or after entering the 6th grade, in order to compete as an eligible contestant.

3. Registration

3.1 Registration for the ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest (EEBDC) will begin at the time and date specified in the official Contest Schedule.

3.2 To participate in the contest, a team must register via the EEBDC website. As part of the registration process, the contestant will be asked to (1) validate the eligibility of each team member, (2) provide a team name and password, (3) provide a valid e-mail address, (4) provide school name and contact information for each member of the team, and (5) designate one member as Team Captain.

3.3 3.3 Once a team has registered for the contest, the team members’ names and grades cannot be changed. The team name can only be changed at the direction of the Contest Coordinator. Other information (mailing addresses, e-mail address, etc.) can be updated on subsequent logins.

3.4 Anyone who is found to have provided incorrect age, grade, eligibility status, school name, or contact information during the registration process will be barred from any further participation in the contest and will be ineligible for prizes.

3.5 The use of inappropriate team names is strictly forbidden. Any team that registers under an inappropriate team name will be temporarily disqualified, and the team will be given an opportunity to change its team name.  Failure to do so will result in permanent disqualification, and the members of that team will be barred from further participation in the contest. A team name may be judged inappropriate if it might be perceived as inappropriate by someone viewing the contest website, regardless of the team’s intent in choosing the name. The Contest Committee reserves the right to determine if a given team name is inappropriate. All decisions of the Contest Committee are final.

3.6 To ensure the privacy of contest participants, the team name may not include the last name (or a substantial portion of the last name) of any team member.

3.7 The use of any obscenity or other inappropriate language in a team registration (to include the team password) is strictly forbidden. Any team that uses inappropriate language in its registration will be disqualified, and the members of the may be barred from further participation in the contest. The Contest Committee reserves the right to determine if a given team name is inappropriate. All decisions of the Contest Committee are final.

4. Your Privacy

4.1 In developing the ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest (EEBDC), we have made every effort to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). We strongly support the provisions of COPPA and pledge to use all personal information collected from contestants solely for appropriate contest administration. We will delete this information at the conclusion of the contest.

4.2 As part of the online registration process, each eligible contestant will be required to provide his or her name, age, grade, e-mail address, school name, and school city. This information will be used only for verification of eligibility and notification of winners.

4.3 Contestants will also be asked to provide information on their gender and ethnic background. This information is optional and is requested solely for the purpose of assessing whether the contest has been successful in reaching out to women and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the engineering profession. It will be used only to compile aggregated statistical summaries of contest participation.

4.4 If a contestant qualifies for the Semi-Final Round of the EEBDC, the Contest Coordinator will notify the parent or guardian by e-mail, using the address provided in the contestant’s registration. At that point, if the contestant is under age 13, we are legally required to obtain parental consent before we can engage in any further direct contact with the contestant. Thus, the Contest Coordinator will seek parental consent at that time; and, if a parent (or guardian) is unwilling to provide consent, we will refrain from any further direct contact with the contestant. In this circumstance, if the parent (or guardian) is willing to receive all contest-related communications on behalf of the child, the child will be permitted to continue participating in the Semi-Final and Final Rounds. If not, the contestant will be disqualified. [NOTE: This procedure is in compliance with the "one-time contact exception" specified in the COPPA statute.]

4.5 No information collected during registration for the EEBDC will be disclosed to any third parties, except for the following:

4.5.1 The names of the winners of the Final Round may be made public for the purpose of contest publicity.

4.5.2 A number of local contests will be offered in conjunction with the EEBDC. To support these local contests, we will provide the names and e-mail addresses of the top finishers to the appropriate local contest coordinator, at or near the end of the Qualifying Round. This information will be provided solely for the purpose of notifying the local contest winners, consistent with the “one-time contact exception” in the COPPA statute.

4.6 Data collection for the Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest is the responsibility of the EEBDC Contest Director, Dr. Stephen Ressler. He can be contacted at http://stephenjressler.com/contact/ or by phone at 845-938-3131.

5. The Qualifying Round

5.1 The Qualifying Round will begin at the time and date specified in the official Contest Schedule.

5.2 A team must register before it can submit bridge designs. It is not necessary to submit a bridge design at the time of registration.

5.3 Once a team is registered, there is no limit to the number of entries that team may submit. No entries for the Qualifying Round will be accepted after the closing time and date, as specified in the official contest schedule.

5.4 All bridge designs must be created using the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 software, which will be available for download from the EEBDC website at the start of the Qualifying Round. (It is permissible to obtain the software from another source; however, the team is solely responsible for ensuring that it has obtained the correct version of the software.)

5.5 During the Qualifying Round, there are no restrictions whatsoever on collaboration. Teams may consult freely with teachers, contest volunteers, parents, or peers about their designs. Collaboration with others will not be allowed in the Semi-Final and Final Rounds.

5.6 During the Qualifying Round, each team is responsible for the security of its own design(s). Any contestant who shares his or her team’s design(s) with another person or team does so at his or her own risk. Any contestant who fails to safeguard his or her team’s design(s) does so at his or her own risk. A contestant who has shared or failed to safeguard a design loses all claim to “ownership” of that design or design concept. If a team shares its design and subsequently fails to qualify for the Semi-Final Round as a result, that team has no basis for complaint and no claim on a place in the Semi-Final Round.

5.7 During the Qualifying Round, only the top team from a given school will be listed on the national Contest Scoreboard.

5.8 At the end of the Qualifying Round, the top 40 eligible High School teams and the top 25 eligible Middle School teams (including no more than one team from any given school) will be invited to compete in the national Semi-Final Round. Semi-finalists will be notified by e-mail, no later than two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the Semi-Final Round. To facilitate notification, each team is responsible for ensuring that its contest registration data includes an accurate e-mail address. If a team expects to be invited to compete in the Semi-Final Round and does not receive a notification e-mail within 48 hours after the end of the Qualifying Round, then that team should send e-mail to the Contest Coordinator at info@bridgecontest.org to check on the team’s status.

5.9 The Contest Committee reserves the right to invite more than 40 High School teams and more than 25 Middle School teams to compete in the Semi-Final Round. In particular, the Contest Committee reserves the right to invite more than one team from a given school, if the additional team’s best design is substantially different from the higher ranked designs from the same school. The Contest Committee reserves the right to determine if a given design is substantially different from the designs of other teams. All decisions of the Contest Committee are final.

5.10 In accordance with federal privacy law, contestants below the age of 13 will require parental consent to participate in the Semi-Final Round. For these contestants, failure to provide a valid e-mail address for a parent or guardian during registration may result in disqualification.  See Rule 4.4 above for specifics.

6. The Semi-Final Round

6.1 The Semi-Final Round will be conducted at the time and date specified in the official Contest Schedule.

6.2 If a team is not available to compete at the designated time, it will be disqualified. Exceptions to this rule can only be made for cases involving family emergencies. The Contest Committee reserves the right to make the final decision regarding all exceptions.

6.3 No later than 7 days prior to the Semi-Final Round, each team will be required to identify the location where the team will compete in the Semi-Final Round. The site must be equipped with a reliable internet connection and a computer with the most current version of WPBD 2014 already installed. If two or more teams from the same school will be competing in the Semi-Final Round, the Contest Committee may direct that these teams compete at the same location.

6.4 No later than 7 days prior to the Semi-Final Round, each team will be required to identify an on-site monitor, who will agree to observe the team’s performance during the entire Semi-Final Round and validate the team’s entry. The on-site monitor may be a teacher, a school administrator, or an approved contest volunteer. The selected monitor must contact the Contest Coordinator no later than 48 hours prior to the start of the Semi-Final Round, to verify his or her willingness to participate and to confirm familiarity with the contest rules. Any team that fails to obtain an on-site monitor by this deadline will be disqualified from the contest. Teams must be willing to allow an additional external observer to monitor their performance during the Semi-Final Round. If a team refuses to allow an external observer, that team will be disqualified from the contest.

6.5 At the designated time and date of the Semi-Final Round, each the team will log in to the EEBDC website, receive a new design project for WPBD 2014, develop a new bridge design, and submit it to the contest website, using the same procedure as in the Qualifying Round.

6.6 During the Semi-Final Round, teams are required to do their own work. Team members may not collaborate with anyone outside of their own team, including the on-site monitor. The on-site monitor will verify that the team’s design submission is entirely the product of the one or two registered team members. Unauthorized collaboration will result in immediate disqualification from the contest.

6.7 During the Semi-Final Round, each team will be allowed to use only one computer. The only programs that may be running on the computer are the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 and a web browser. The web browser will be used solely for uploading designs. No team is permitted to use e-mail, cell phone, or any other form of electronic communication during the Semi-Final Round.

6.8 Team members may not use any printed, written, or electronic reference materials (except for the WPBD 2014 Help file) during the Semi-Final Round. Team members may not use any previously created designs (printed or electronic) during the Semi-Final Round. Team members may take hand-written notes and may use a calculator.

6.9 As soon as possible after the conclusion of the Semi-Final Round and validation of the design submissions by the on-site observers, the finalist teams will be identified and invited to compete in the Final Round of the contest.

6.10.The finalists will be the top five semifinal finishers in the High School Competition and the top three semifinal finishers in the Middle School Competition, except that:

(1) No more than one team will be selected from any given school.

(2) The Contest Committee reserves the right to invite additional teams to compete in the Final Round.

Up to three alternate teams per category will also be named and will be invited to compete in the Final Round if one of the top finalist teams is unable to attend. All finalists will be notified by e-mail no later than one week following the Semi-Final Round.

7. The Final Round

7.1 The Final Round will be conducted on the date specified in the official Contest Schedule, at a designated location, to be announced.

7.2 Only the teams selected at the end of the Semi-Final Round will participate in the Final Round. Teams must be present to compete.

7.3 Each team will travel with a parent or guardian to the designated location for the final round of the contest. All reasonable travel and lodging expenses for the team members and one parent or guardian per team will be paid from contest funds. Each team member will be required to provide proof of identity and eligibility upon arrival at the Final Round location.

7.4 During the Final Round, each team will be provided with a computer workstation consisting of a notebook computer equipped with a conventional mouse. Teams will be presented with a new design project for the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 and will be required to develop a new bridge design within a specified two-hour period.

7.5 During the Final Round, teams are required to do their own work. Team members may not collaborate with anyone outside of their own team. Unauthorized collaboration will result in immediate disqualification from the contest.

7.6 During the Final Round, the Contest Coordinator may designate one team member as Computer Operator for the team. If the Contest Coordinator chooses to designates a Computer Operator, only that team member will be permitted to manipulate the computer mouse during the round.

7.7 At the conclusion of the two-hour Final Round, the Contest Coordinator will check each team’s score and identify the winner(s) in each of the two Contest Categories.

8. Judging

8.1 During the Qualifying and Semi-Final Rounds of the contest, an automated process will be used to check the validity of each design submitted electronically to the contest website. An entry will be judged as valid if:

(1) The file is a “bridge design file” created by WPBD 2014, the most recent edition of the West Point Bridge Designer;

(2) The design has no more than 120 members and no more than 50 joints (this limit is automatically enforced by the software);

(3) The design is not identical to any previously submitted design; and

(4) The design is structurally adequate; i.e., it passes the WPBD load test with no member failures.

The EEBDC website will automatically reject any design that is identical to a previously submitted design. In other words, the first team to achieve and submit a given design will obtain full, exclusive credit for it. Two designs are considered to be identical if (1) their joints are all in exactly the same positions; (2) their structural members are all in the same positions (without regard to member numbers); and (3) each member in one design uses exactly the same material, cross-section, and size as the corresponding member in the other design.

8.2 The submitted design must have been created entirely within the West Point Bridge Designer 2014. Any attempt to manually modify the bridge design file will result in rejection of the design and may result in disqualification of the team.

8.3 If a design is rejected, the submitting team will usually be notified automatically by the website. If any subsequently discovered condition causes rejection of a design or disqualification of a team, the Contest Committee will attempt to notify the affected team(s) by e-mail. However, even if a team never receives such notification, the Contest Committee’s decision to reject the design or disqualify the team will stand.

8.4 Once an entry is determined to be valid, its standing in the contest is determined by its cost (subject to the provisions of Rule 5.7). A lower cost results in a higher standing. In all three rounds of the contest, the lowest cost wins.

8.5 The cost of a design is as calculated by WPBD 2014 and the EEBDC website. These two calculations should be identical; however, in the unlikely event that the two calculations are different, the one performed by the EEBDC website will be used to determine the contest standing.

8.6 The load test results calculated by WPBD 2014 and the EEBDC website should be identical; however, in the unlikely event that the two calculations are different, the one performed by the EEBDC website will be used to determine whether or not the design passes the load test.

8.7 If two teams submit designs that are not identical but that have exactly the same cost, the tie will be broken based upon the time of submission. The design submitted earlier will have the higher standing.

9. Technical Requirements

9.1 During the Qualifying and Semi-Final Rounds, each team is responsible for gaining access to the Internet and the EEBDC website. This responsibility includes providing computer equipment, a phone line or other connection, and an account with an Internet service provider. Use the most reliable access available to you. Neither ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS nor its sponsors will be responsible for any difficulties you encounter due to access problems or slowness in your connection to the EEBDC website.

10. General Conditions

10.1 All teams agree to abide by the terms of these official rules.

10.2 If any contestant engages in conduct judged by the EEBDC Committee to be “unsportsmanlike,” then the contestant and his or her team will be permanently disqualified from the contest.

10.3 The decisions of the EEBDC Committee are final on all matters concerning the operation of this contest. All teams agree to be bound by the decisions of the EEBDC Committee.

10.4 The published contest schedule and rules are subject to change.

10.5 Members of winning teams grant ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS and the other contest sponsors permission to use their names on line, in print, or in any other media, in connection with contest publicity.

10.6 By entering, participants release and hold harmless ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS, the U.S. Military Academy, the contest sponsors, their respective directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability for any injuries, loss, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest or any prize won.

10.7 ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS, the U.S. Military Academy, and the contest sponsors assume no responsibility for lost, late, or misdirected entries, or for any computer, communications, or other technical malfunctions that may occur during registration or submission of contest entries.

10.8 Any attempt by any individual to deliberately damage a website, to gain unauthorized access to a contestant’s registration account or Team Home Page, or to otherwise undermine the legitimate operation of the EEBDC is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS and the other contest sponsors reserve the right to seek damages from any such individual to the fullest extent permitted by the law.

10.9 Many local bridge design contests are conducted in conjunction with the national ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest. These local contests use the WPBD software and the contest website; however, they are not affiliated with ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS or the ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS Bridge Design Contest in any way. Neither ENGINEERING ENCOUNTERS nor the EEBDC Committee have any authority over, or responsibility for, the rules, procedures, or prizes used in any of these local contests. Any dispute or disagreement with the rules, procedures, or prizes used in any local contest must be directed to the local contest sponsor for resolution.