Share this:
12/01/1998 08:00:00

Annual machine vs. machine slugfestset for December 3 in Beckman Auditorium

PASADENA--Caltech engineering students will decide whose machine is the best when the 14th annual ME72 Engineering Design Contest is held at 2p.m. Thursday, December 3, in Beckman Auditorium.

The celebrated contest lets undergraduate students match wits and design acumen to see whose machine is best at performing a contrived task. The media are invited to attend and cover the event, which should last about 90 minutes.

At the beginning of the 1998 fall term, the students registering for Mechanical Engineering 72 were given a design task, a "bag of junk," and 10 weeks to design and fabricate a device. Each participant (working as part of a team of two) has designed, prototyped, fabricated, assembled, tested, debugged, and tuned a device to compete against pairs of their classmates' devices.

This year's contest is somewhat different from previous ME 72 contests, in that the students will work in teams to design and build individual devices that compete together. The contest will be a soccer-like game in which the object is to shoot ping-pong balls into the opposing team's goal.

The goal box is comprised of two zones: balls moved into the zone closest to the table are scored one point each; balls put into the upper region (behind a sloping wall) are scored three points each. The team with the most points in its opponent's goal at the end of 35 seconds wins. An overall winner will be determined in a triple-elimination tournament.

The contest is the highlight of Professor Erik Antonsson's Engineering Design Laboratory course. According to Antonsson, engineering is "primarily the process of creating new things to solve problems. This course, and contest, is one attempt to provide students with a real-world opportunity to learn about the design of new things, and the solution of open-ended, ill-defined problems."

The event is sponsored by Schlumberger, Cordis Webster, Ford, Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks, Allied Signal, Valeo, General Motors, First Quadrant, Aerovironment, Energy and Environmental Research Corp., Hughes Space and Communications Co., the idealab, Northrop Grumman Corp., Applied Materials, Alcoa, Hewlett-Packard Company (San Diego Division), and ITT Automotive.

PRESS ACCESS: The contest is open to the news media and Caltech community. Press will have special seating in the front rows on the left side of the auditorium, and will have supervised access to the stage and student preparation room during breaks. To ensure that the hundreds of students, faculty and staff have a clear view of the contest, we ask that the press not stand on or in front of the stage.

Written by Robert Tindol