Amazing spaghetti machines get ready to ‘can it for the planet’

Students from Mater Christi College get to work on their spaghetti machine. Image supplied by UoM

Budding engineers from all over Victoria will gather at the University of Melbourne this Friday 11 August 2017 to build a can-crushing machine for recycling.

The young engineers are part of the ‘Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest’ where Year 10 students compete to build the most amazing ‘spaghetti machine’ — the Italian term for an overly complex machine or device that is used to perform a relatively simple task.

Launched in 2011 by the Melbourne School of Engineering, it is now an annual competition for school students to apply their knowledge and skills in maths, science, engineering and project management by inventing a ‘spaghetti machine’.

The most famous spaghetti machine creator was US inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg, which is why they are often known as ‘Rube Goldberg machines’.

Jamie Evans, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne is MC for the event, which his now in its fifth year.

“We are thrilled to have 22 schools in the competition in 2017. They have all been using their creativity and design skills to come up with a complex machine to crush a can and put it into a bin,” Prof Evans said.

“Students must achieve this within a minimum of 12 steps, over a maximum of two minutes, to get that can in the bin and ready for recycling.”

The School of Engineering launched the competition in 2011 for the 150th anniversary of Engineering at Melbourne.

The aim is to inspire students to discover engineering through a fun and challenging team-based activity. The project allows students to learn about the basic principles of engineering while designing the most entertaining contraption possible.

“Students are encouraged to incorporate elements from a variety of engineering disciplines, including structural, electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering,” added Prof Evans.

“We are thrilled with the level of entries in 2017 and the sheer imagination behind them. Schools have been busily designing, building and testing their machines over the past four months and learning valuable Engineering principles along the way.”

The final showdown will take place in Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus on Friday 11 August 2017, where all competing schools will demonstrate their machines to judges and the general public from 1pm – 3pm.

The University of Melbourne has an international version of the competition open to all international high school students between 14-17, outside Australia and New Zealand. Registrations for the International Competition open on 1st September 2017 and close on the 13th October 2017.

Source: UoM

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