I was born near San Francisco, CA. I claim my fascination with bridges comes from having been born so close to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the greatest bridges of all time. Since then I have had the opportunity to visit other great bridges all over the United States, Canada, and Europe.
My Bridge Building Story
My love of model bridge building started when my mom introduced me to Science Olympiad (where would we be without moms?).
I spent seven years participating as a student in Science Olympiad building and technology events. I won 17 awards in the Bridge Building, Tower Building, and Boomilever events, including seven 1st places. In the spring of 2004, I took first place at the Georgia State Finals in Bridge Building, breaking a 4-year efficiency record with my bridge. The intensity of competition gave me great motivation to study how bridges work so I could create better models.
My first year in Science Olympiad my partner and I only built one bridge, which took 2nd place at our regional competition. The second year we did better, and got 7th place at the state tournament. My coach was a civil engineer who taught me the basic concepts relevant to bridge building. After the second year, my partner and coach moved to another state. At that point, I was still very green in building bridges. But I was a determined little guy, and built over 50 bridges the third year (2002).
That was when I really started to learn. Mostly by trial and error, I found a lot of designs that didn’t work and some that did. That year I won my regional competition and took 4th at the Georgia Science Olympiad State tournament. I was greatly disappointed at not making the top three. My disappointment doubled when I learned that I missed 2nd place by only two grams. For comparison, one popsicle stick weighs ~1.5 grams.
I was determined to do better the next year. I began to study deeper into the theory behind how bridges work. I made only about 10 bridges that year, working hard to perfect each one. The hard work paid off and when the regional tournament came around and I won 1st place. At the award ceremony, the tournament director called my bridge, “The most magnificent bridge design I have ever seen.” That year I also won the State tournament in Bridge Building with the same bridge. That bridge holds a special place in my heart, and is the only intact bridge I still have to this day.
I went on to compete in the tower and boomilever building competitions during high school. In 2005, my tower placed 2nd in the state. Had my team advanced to the national tournament, my tower would have been in the top 15. I thought this wasn’t too bad.
All of this learning and experience sparked the creation of this website. Started as a way for me to share what I had learned, this site has grown into much more as more and more people share their own stories, pictures, and videos. In 2005, Garrett’s Bridges was officially founded and I started selling blueprints and kits which have helped teachers, parents, and students across the world learn about STEM ideas in a very hands-on way. The future of Garrett’s Bridges is to promote fun based learning through model bridge building.