Hope Street Students Build Bridges with
LAX Consolidated Solutions Team


Hope Street students experienced the world of engineering and construction over spring break when Jacob Dean, Senior Estimator, LAX Consolidated Solutions team for CONRAC,*  along with his fellow engineers, Andrew Penaflor and David Sunada, facilitated a plastic straw bridge-building workshop. Arinda Cale, Estimating Administrator for Dragados, one of the Consolidated Solutions companies, coordinated the activity with the goal of raising student awareness of career opportunities in design, engineering, construction and related fields.

Students worked in teams to create straw bridges that could span an 18” distance between two chairs while supporting a paper bowl filled with pennies. Prior to building the bridges, students watched a simulation video of the futuristic people mover coming to LAX that will be known as LINXS. This project is a joint venture between Dragados and three other companies-- Balfour Beatty, Fluor and Flatiron. Following the video, Mr. Dean shared a presentation on bridge design and told students how he discovered his passion for engineering in college. Each team’s bridge proved penny-worthy, indicating that Hope Street students may very well be among the next generation of the LAX Consolidated Solutions team of designers, engineers and contractors.

We asked Mr. Dean to share with us some of his observations from the workshop.  Here are his enthusiastic responses:

How did teamwork among the students impact the project?  
The students used teamwork to decide on the design of their bridges and then to divide up the tasks required for the construction phase. The more efficient the teams were in utilizing each team member, the more they accomplished during the shortened timeframe from concept through construction. 

What impressed you most about the Hope Street students?  
I was most impressed by their cooperation and participation. I can’t recall any teams where one or two members were performing the bulk of the work while others only spectated. I was also impressed with how cohesive they were as a group despite the range in students’ ages.  

What did the students do to make the bridges “penny-worthy?” 
The students used varying schemes to reinforce their mostly “flat deck” bridge designs, but the winning team (by a very large margin), developed a unique design for the end supports of their bridge that took advantage of the curved seat of the chairs. This design approach allowed the bridge to cradle a very heavy load (pennies + glass rocks + 35’ tape measure) while being securely supported by the curved edge of the chairs at the ends. 

Any other impressions about the workshop you’d like to share?
The students did an excellent job of jumping right into the project, making decisions, and putting their bridges together at a fast pace. It was really fun to watch them work together, test ideas, and implement their plans.

*The LAX Consolidated Solutions team is made up of the following companies:  Dragados, AECOM, ACS, and John Laing. These companies form the design-build-finance-operate-maintain task force for the proposed Consolidated Rent-A-Car (CONRAC) facility for LAX. The team’s mission is to support the sustainable growth of Los Angeles by providing meaningful opportunities for local, small, disadvantaged, and other diverse businesses.