Bridges As Art: Trinity School Alumna Gives A Lesson In Tech And Design

Jan 28, 2015

The proposed pedestrian bridge at Cascades Park, as rendered by Figg Engineering.
Credit Figg Engineering Group

A local business is marrying art with engineering—a feat that’s made it one of the most in-demand firms in the nation when it comes to building industrial bridges.  Wednesday the Figg Engineering group stopped at Trinity Catholic School to show kids how it’s done.

About 50 kids are in a large hall at Trinity Catholic School and engineer Jason Stauffer is in the middle of about 10 of them. He’s holding up pieces of reinforced steel coated in blue and green paint. The coating helps prevent rust. Stauffer is showing students how the steel is used to reinforce and construct bridges.

"Who wants to guess how much one cubic inch of this will hold?" asks his audience, holding up a piece of steel made up of about five wires twisted around each other--like a twizzler. The students start guessing.

Building bridges—and by extension, creating usable art—is Linda Figg's passion. She owns Figg Engineering and her firm’s bridges can be seen in nearly every state. From the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Fort Lauderdale, to the recently re-built I-35 bridge in Minnesota--the old one recently collapsed. Her work has been featured on the Travel Channel and National Geographic. Figg says from a young age, she loved to build and sew—and she loved math and science.

“Bridges are really kind of the purest form of engineering from our perspective. They give you the ability to create something not only functional, but also something that can be a remarkable sculpture. We get to design the art of the bridge and how it connects communities," she says.

Schools across the state are shoring up their science, technology, engineering and math programs and students are increasingly being pushed toward STEM fields. Figg says she wasn’t always the best student in her science and engineering courses, but what she loved was the reward of making something come together.

“It’s like life sized legos. That’s what it’s really like.”

Figg is Trinity’s Aluma of the Year. And one of the firm’s newest projects will be done right at home. Figg Engineering is building a new bridge for Cascades Park that will feature a modern design with slender beams supporting a canopy made of solar panels. Those panels will power the bridge’s night lights which will feature a rainbow of colors.