Can a bridge built of spaghetti and glue support a weight of hundreds of kilos? Lithuanian and Latvian ‘pasta engineers’ had a kilo of pasta and glue to prove that it can.
The winning structure in Lithuania's spaghetti bridge building championship, organised by Vilnius Gediminas Technology University, faltered only when subjected to a weight of 567kg, beating the previous record of 361kg.
The runner-up bridge, by Kaunas University of Technology students, held 245kg, followed by a 223kg-supporting spaghetti bridge built by Vievis Gymnasium team.
The main prize is a ticket to the World Championship in Spaghetti Bridge Building 2019 in Budapest, but since the winners – a team from Riga Technical University – have already won it in Latvia, the ticket goes to the runners-up from Kaunas. One of them, Edgaras Alšauskas, represented Lithuania in the world championship last year.
He got interested in constructing spaghetti bridges in 2016, back when he was still in secondary school, and after a successful start he would take part in the competition every year.
The rules are simple: teams of 1-4 people can use one kilo of pasta and glue to construct a structure as durable as possible. The time it takes to build a spaghetti bridge may vary, Alšauskas says.
“Usually we start several months before the competition. It might seem like a lot, but preparations involve a lot of things: from finding the glue and the pasta to testing a completed bridge,” Alšauskas tells LRT.lt. This year, he adds, constructing the bridge took several hours of daily work for three weeks.
Last year, his team came in fourth in the world championship, so far Lithuania's highest achievement.
The choice of pasta and glue is of great importance, Alšauskas says, as is accuracy of execution. He says he is not surprised that Latvian spaghetti bridge builders won, since they use more sophisticated methods.
The Latvians rely on computers to design and cut out pasta pieces, while Alšauskas' team does all the work manually. “You can never be as precise working with your hands, so we'll have to yield to those who work with computers”.
Moreover, Latvian pasta seems to be better suited for durability. “This year, I'm using pasta from Latvia, since I couldn't find this brand in Lithuania, the choice is too small,” according to Alšauskas.
The hobby seems to be catching on in Lithuania.
The first tournament in 2011 involved four student teams from the Construction Faculty of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and the winning structure could hold a weight of 23kg.
Eight years later, spaghetti bridge building is a national event with 175 teams competing in 18 selection stage tournaments across the country. Twelve teams of secondary school students and three university groups from Lithuania and Latvia competed in the final event.