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Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Sponsors USF – Selmon Balsa Bridge Design Competition

For Immediate Release

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Sponsors USF – Selmon Balsa Bridge Design Competition

Tampa, Fla. (February 12, 2020) – Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) announces its sponsorship of the University of South Florida (USF) College of Engineering’s 28th annual Bridge Competition. The competition will take place at USF’s Engineering Expo on February 22, 2020, and is open to all Hillsborough and Pinellas County middle and high school students. This year’s student winners will receive a private, engineer-led tour of the Selmon Extension construction project to give students a behind-the-scenes view of STEM principles in action.

The USF-Selmon Balsa Bridge Design Competition began in the 1980s as a student-run project to connect the University with area under-represented middle and high school students and provide a fun, extra-educational enrichment opportunity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) philosophies. The competition’s theme of Design It, Build It, Break It! allows teams of three students to design and build balsa wood model bridges and test their load capacities.

Teachers and student teams are encouraged to watch workshop videos on the competition’s webpage (, which provide an opportunity to prepare for the competition, and then work with an engineering mentor to develop lesson plans that incorporate the fields of engineering and design with math and science through bridge-building.

Through its partnership with USF, THEA seeks to provide mentorship, encourage the STEM mindset, and raise educational opportunities for Tampa Bay area students.  The USF-Selmon Balsa Bridge Design Competition is a branch of THEA’s Selmon STEM Scholarship Program, which supports through education and exposure to transportation careers, USF engineering students who are graduates of Hillsborough County high schools.

For more information on the USF-Selmon Balsa Bridge Design Competition, visit   For rules and regulations, or to register for the competition, visit


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