Okanagan College student Marcus Brown sets up his team's spaghetti bridge on the testing machine during the 30th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest Friday at Okanagan College. Brown's team didn't win the contest. Instead, first prize went to another team from the college, whose bridge held almost 196 kilograms.
Aaron Watson's eyes darted back and forth between the scale and his spaghetti bridge during the tense final round of Okanagan College's 30th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest Friday.
When the pasta-and-glue structure started wavering as the scale inched up to 160 kilograms, Watson thought that was it.
But the bridge didn't budge.
The civil engineering student and his teammates watched as their bridge hoisted more and more weight before finally collapsing
after supporting 195.99 kilograms and littering the stage with noodles.
"I felt like my whole life was flashing before my eyes," said Watson after he and his team, Members Inc, won.
"It's a combination of all my life's experiences; I can't top this day," he said.
He credits thick tubular pasta as the winning factor for his team. His team spent countless hours building the bridge, using a combination of bucatini pasta and lasagna to make the 997-gram structure.
"Both the shape and the strength of where and how they use the pasta affects how much the bridge can hold," said Ian Cameron, a mechanical engineering professor at Okanagan College.
Since the contest started, students from around the world have used millions of pounds of spaghetti and other pasta to build bridges that can hold a substantial amount of weight.
Last year, Peter Sandor, a student from College of Nyiregyhaza in Hungary, won with his 967-gram bridge holding 384.06 kilograms before shattering. The heavyweight record was set in 2006 by two other Hungarians, whose bridge held 443.58 kilograms.
This year's event event also featured an elementary school demonstration, in which students were asked to build a replica of the new, or old, Port Mann Bridge. But the team had to wait a little while longer to collect its $1,500 prize. Just as the award ceremony began, a fire alarm rang and sent the hundreds of spectators out of the auditorium.
Watson doesn't know if he'll do the competition again, but says he encourages everyone who is up for a challenge to try it at least once.
"It was really stressful and a big-time commitment, but I think anyone can try this competition. You learn a lot about discipline," he said.