Engineer's Puzzle

The Puzzle: The team bonding bridge bamboozler

Four engineers are on a team building exercise, camping and navigating in remote countryside. All is going well, there are laughs and guffaws a plenty. However, towards the end of the night things take a turn for the worse. The weather turns in and they take to the tents to wait it out.

However, it’s not long before they realise the food supply has been savaged, presumably by the hungry looking badger they saw earlier that day. And to make matters worse, the water supply is near finished.

With mobile phones not allowed on the exercise, they decide to pack away and head back to civilisation. They come across a rickety old rope bridge, the kind Indiana Jones would look comfortable on, but not these engineers. They have one torch between them and shine it out over the bridge. It looks as if there are wooden slats missing at random and the weather gets increasingly bad.

They decide that for safety only a maximum of two people can be on the bridge at any one time. And the torch must be used by those crossing. The bridge is too long to throw the torch back so it must be returned by hand.

With fatigue setting in and with varying degrees of fear, the engineers are able to cross the bridge in 10mins, 5mins, 2mins and 1min respectively (How do they know this? Just go with me here...)

Piggy backing of any kind across the bridge will result in certain death, as will any kind of conga-style crossing. And the pairs must cross at the pace of the slowest person.

The question is, what is the quickest time all four can cross the bridge in safety, and how do they do it?

Justin Cunningham

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