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Two Crater students are finalists in national engineering competition

CENTRAL POINT - Two Crater High School students will fly to West Point, N.Y., Friday as finalists in a national engineering contest.

Senior Matt Stagg and junior Nick Treneff will compete Saturday in the national championships of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's computer bridge-building contest.

The two started out competing against 19,000 teams nationwide, landing in the western region's top 10 before winning their division in March out of 78 semi-finalist teams. They won laptop computers and a trip to West Point for the six-team finals.

They compete for a first-place scholarship of $15,000 each, second-place of $10,000 and third-place of $5,000.

The two students, calling themselves the "Two-Man Band," their parents and Crater High drafting and construction teacher Doug Gardner received all-expenses-paid trips to West Point.

The competition began last November using West Point Bridge Designer software. The software features three-dimensional animation that allows students to visualize structural behavior by providing a simulated truckload test. Structures and costs are tested and judged continuously.

The competition is sponsored by West Point and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Last month's challenge was to design an open span over a 40-meter-wide river. The finals will feature a 32-meter span, supported from beneath and built around an obstacle in the middle of the river, Gardner said.

"I'm hopeful for the kids," he said. "They're pretty sharp kids and very quick thinkers. They figured out the last problem in 35 minutes.

"They're excited, but in their own quiet, adolescent way. I think this has set an inner fire for them, made them stand out and will set the course of their lives."

Results are available this weekend on the Net: www.usma.edu/bridgecontest.

Two Crater students are finalists in national engineering competition