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Egg Drop Devices & Engineering Fun
January 31, 2003 9:44 AM   Subscribe

National Engineers Week begins February 16, and this year, students everywhere will be competing to design Future Cities or the ever popular egg drop devices for competitions all over the country. They also plan to profile 50 engineers in honor of their 50th anniversary, and welcome submissions. Did you ever participate in egg drops or other cool engineering projects while in school?
posted by madamjujujive (18 comments total)

 
Yes! Ours consisted of a rubbish rubbish parachute and rubbish rubbish shock exorbant legs. The best seemed to involve scrunched up paper - air is a great shock absorber. All we really had to work with was paper and string.
posted by nthdegx at 9:53 AM on January 31, 2003


My girlfriend and I built a balsa wood bridge in Physics class. I designed it more to look cool than to actually support things. During the competition, we discovered a flaw in the system used to evaluate the bridges - the final weight used to determine how much the bridge "supported" was how much weight was on the bridge when it broke. So, we put a few weights on at first and then put a really big one on at the end, making our final weight very high. We won third place.

Now that's engineering, and I've applied the lessons I learned in that competition to my engineering career ever since.
posted by trigfunctions at 10:01 AM on January 31, 2003


Instead of dropping our eggs, we made catapults to launch them. My catapult worked great, but my egg protection scheme - something with balloons, I forget - didn't. So I bagged it and just lobbed raw eggs into the high school parking lot. "No, this one'll work, I know it will!"

When he caught on, my physics teacher got so angry that he couldn't even speak. He kept trying to smile but he couldn't, he had this awful grimace and he turned very red. I thought he might burst. Pop!
posted by lumpley at 10:11 AM on January 31, 2003


We hope there'll be some formal celebration of the engineer's patron saint, Casey Jones.
posted by jfuller at 10:29 AM on January 31, 2003


Future cities....I immediately flashed on Albert Speer. Paging Mr. Godwin, white courtesy telephone, please.
posted by alumshubby at 10:50 AM on January 31, 2003


We did an egg drop from a third floor fire escape in seventh or eighth grade. To get high scores you needed shorter drop times and lower equipment weight. Your egg had to survive, of course.

My design involved a padded chamber for the egg and a supplemental handkerchief parachute. I was too cautious about the chute opening and I lobbed it off the fire escape with the chute partly unfurled. The chute was very effective and my egg made it easily, but it took too long to land. I should have just hurled the thing at the ground.

I can't remember what design won, but I remember the whole thing being a lot of fun. We should have a MeFi egg drop!
posted by Songdog at 10:57 AM on January 31, 2003


Now that's engineering, and I've applied the lessons I learned in that competition to my engineering career ever since.


Ummm.... so, uh, do you still design bridges? If so, please list each and everyone of them. :-)
posted by Plunge at 11:00 AM on January 31, 2003


We had to do one of those egg drop things where any materials were allowed and it was judged on a weight vs. time in flight ratio.

I encased mine in a small block of gelatin (I forget the name, some more-solid variation of Jello) and threw it towards the ground (to get my time in flight down) off the football bleachers (three stories or so) and it bounced about six feet in the air, splattering the red gelatin everywhere. But, the egg survived.
posted by jmevius at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2003


My junior high school had an egg drop; our design had to be encased inside a box of a certain size (about 4"x4"x8", IIRC.) My own design didn't work very well, but I do remember what the winning design was: someone filled their box with Cheerios and put the egg on top. It made the most horrendous crunching sound when the box landed, but the egg survived. And since Cheerios are so light-weight, they had one of the lightest boxes in the contest.

Just goes to show you that sometimes the best way to engineer things is by using controlled failure...
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:24 AM on January 31, 2003


Oh, the memories. Some of the cool engineering experiments in high school:

a) Build a car powered by a mousetrap; the winner's car goes the farthest. I won by over-torquing the mousetrap spring.

b) Build a boat out of balsa wood and paper and paddle it across a swimming pool. Barely made it across.

c) Of course there's the egg drop, but other people here were much more creative than I.

laz-e-boy
posted by laz-e-boy at 11:32 AM on January 31, 2003


I recall doing the egg drop during a university competition. (well, drinking competition disguised as an engineering compeition). Our design was going quite poorly, likely due to our hangovers. At the last minute, we ran outside and filled a plastic shopping bag up with snow. (The benefits of Canadian engineering schools..)

We put the whole egg contraption we had built into the bag of snow..it dropped from the 3rd or 4th story, and snow went *everywhere* with a huge thud. Amazingly, the snow absorbed the fall, and the egg was perfectly intact. I recall receiving bonus points because the judge was "fucking amazed".

Another school project invovled getting an egg across a pond of water..as fast as possible, and intact. Most teams tried to come up with sailboats, and self-propelled boats. Well, we used a 2L Coke bottle, rigged the egg inside, and began pumping it up with a bicycle pump. Eventually the pressure caused the bottle to pop right off, and fly across the pond. Luckily, the egg survived too.

We had bonus points for having the egg across the water the fastest time..less than a second. :)
posted by Adam_S at 12:01 PM on January 31, 2003



Ummm.... so, uh, do you still design bridges? If so, please list each and everyone of them. :-)


HA! Of course I do - you can read about some of my work here:http://iti.acns.nwu.edu/links/bridges/disasters.html
posted by trigfunctions at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2003


We were all given a box of lego gears and girders, and had to make a gearbox that outputted the greatest output torque without tearing itself apart. Oh,yeah, we had rubber band pulleys, too. Since I was the only person in my Mechanical Engineering class who could change his own oil (no, really), my team had something of an unfair advantage. heh.

We "competed" in the Formula SAE races, too. However, despite the teacher incomplete-ing two of us three times to get us to do every one else's job (every one else had the good sense to quit the tyrant), I never got to actually drive the damn thing.

Incidentally, it being Engineers Week, anyone know who's hiring?
posted by notsnot at 12:46 PM on January 31, 2003


perverts.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:02 PM on January 31, 2003


I'm participating in Central Texas Engineer's Week. I've already got my assignment for a bunch of elementary school classes. I'm torn between exposing them to the excitements of engineering, and screaming at the top of my lungs, "Run! Save yourselves! There are no jobs! Learn to be an accountant! Or a guitar player!"
posted by chipr at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2003


I was too damned busy keeping up with the damned homework. And as for building things, we had to build a truss for actual marks, with each class getting different instructions (ours the most deliberately obscurantist of the lot).

Disaster.

Don't be reminding me of engineer school, OK?
posted by joeclark at 3:12 PM on January 31, 2003


I did the balsa bridge (32 lbs with a 26 gram spacetruss baby), but by far the contest i'm most proud of is my baby 22' long steel bridge that held 2500 lbs . Of course while in school i also made a giant foot, a giant elephant and then 5 small elephants . Afterall, engineering is playtime for big kids...
posted by NGnerd at 3:54 PM on February 1, 2003


laz-e-boy: As far as engineering competitions go, there's always the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race. There are some photos from the race here.
posted by mrmcsurly at 9:15 AM on February 3, 2003


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